Priest Sued on Sexual Child Abuse Charges

By Gary V. Murray
Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
April 6, 1999

A Worcester man has alleged in a civil lawsuit that he was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest.

In a suit filed Friday in Worcester Superior Court, 49-year-old Robert King charged that he was twice sexually molested in 1962 by the Rev. Brendan O'Donoghue, once on a ski trip to Vermont and the second time in the Worcester home of O'Donoghue's mother.

A similar suit alleging sexual abuse of a child was filed against O'Donoghue in 1994 and is still pending.

King, represented by Worcester lawyer Christopher M. Uhl, is seeking unspecified financial damages in his suit against O'Donoghue, the diocese, Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger.

According to the suit, the sexual assaults occurred in 1962, when King was 12 years old and a member of St. Peter's Church and Boy Scout Troop 929, of which O'Donoghue was scout chaplain. O'Donoghue, now retired, was a close friend of King's family and assumed a "parental role" toward King when King's mother died in January 1962, the suit states.

A month after the death of King's mother, O'Donoghue organized a Boy Scout ski trip to Mount Snow, Vt., "to help ease Robert King's suffering from the loss of his mother," according to the suit. After insisting that he and King share a bed at the Red Barn Ski Lodge, the suit alleges, O'Donoghue sexually abused King for the first time, telling him that the sexual act was "their secret. "

The second of the alleged assaults occurred in March 1962, according to the suit, after O'Donoghue asked that King stay over at O'Donoghue's mother's house so they could leave early the next morning for another ski trip to Vermont. O'Donoghue allegedly sexually abused King while the two were sharing a bed in the home of O'Donoghue's mother.

The suit states that King, of 12 Scott St., "experienced emotional suffering" as a direct result of O'Donoghue's acts and that he later abused alcohol and drugs "to ease his suffering. " According to the suit, King repressed his memories of the alleged assaults and did not appreciate that he had been harmed by O'Donoghue's alleged conduct until last December, after seeking specialized counseling.

The suit charges that diocesan officials were aware O'Donoghue was engaging in sexual conduct with King and other children and that they transferred him 12 times during his first 15 years in the diocese "in an effort to hide the sexual predator... "

It further charges that church officials failed to take reasonable steps to protect King and that they conspired with O'Donoghue "to cover up the sexual wrong doing ... "

The 16-page suit includes claims of negligence, negligent hiring, intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, assault and battery and conspiracy.

Diocesan officials declined to comment on the suit.

"Our policy is not to comment on any ongoing or pending lawsuits...," said diocesan spokesman Raymond Delisle, adding that O'Donoghue is retired and on administrative leave and not acting in any capacity as a priest.

King also declined comment on the lawsuit.

In 1994, Edward L. Gagne of Spencer filed a civil suit in Worcester Superior Court alleging that he was sexually assaulted by O'Donoghue in 1978 in the rectory of Our Lady of the Rosary in Spencer. Gagne was a 13-year-old altar boy at the time of the alleged assault.

Gagne also sued diocesan officials and the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo.

Gagne alleged that Inzerillo sexually assaulted him in 1985 when Inzerillo was vocation director for the diocese and Gagne was considering entering the priesthood.

O'Donoghue and Inzerillo have denied Gagne's charges and Gagne's suit is still pending.


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