Sexual Assault Case against Priest Is Settled

By Gary V. Murray
Telegram & Gazette
June 28, 2001

WORCESTER - An out-of-court settlement has been reached in a second civil lawsuit brought in connection with allegations of child sexual assault by a Roman Catholic priest.

Terms were not disclosed of the agreement this week in a suit against the Worcester Diocese and the Rev. Brendan O'Donoghue, a 78-year-old retired priest now living in Shrewsbury. Robert P. King, 52, of Worcester alleged he was sexually assaulted by Rev. O'Donoghue in 1962, when he was a parishioner of St. Peter's Parish and Rev. O'Donoghue was a curate there.

In October 1999, a civil lawsuit filed by Edward L. Gagne of Spencer alleging that he was sexually assaulted by Rev. O'Donoghue and another priest, the Rev. Peter J. Inzerillo, also was settled out of court.

Mr. King alleged in his 1999 lawsuit that he was twice sexually assaulted by Rev. O' Donoghue, once during an overnight ski trip in Vermont and a second time at the Pleasant Street home of Rev. O'Donoghue's mother.

Rev. O'Donoghue denied the allegations. His lawyer, Thomas B. Farrey III, and lawyer James G. Reardon Jr., representing the diocese, also claimed Mr. King's suit was barred by a three-year statute of limitations.

Mr. King, represented by lawyer Christopher M. Uhl, maintained the statute of limitations did not apply because he did not make a connection between the psychological harm he said he suffered and the alleged sexual abuse until he began counseling in 1998.

Mr. King's suit included claims for assault and battery, intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress, negligence and negligent hiring and supervision.

Claims against Bishop Daniel P. Reilly and Auxiliary Bishop George F. Rueger, who had also been named as defendants, were dismissed last week by Judge Timothy S. Hillman after he found neither held his present supervisory position with the diocese at the time the assaults were alleged to have occurred.

The settlement of Mr. King's remaining case against the diocese and Rev. O'Donoghue was reached Monday, when a trial was scheduled to begin in Worcester Superior Court, according to court records. Terms of the settlement were not contained in the records, and Mr. King and the lawyers involved in the case could not be reached yesterday for comment on the settlement.

In the previous case, Mr. Gagne charged that as a 13-year-old altar boy, he was molested by Rev. O'Donoghue in 1978 in the rectory of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Spencer. He further alleged that he was sexually assaulted by Rev. Inzerillo in 1985, when Rev. Inzerillo was vocation director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester and Mr. Gagne was considering entering the priesthood.

Rev. O'Donoghue and Rev. Inzerillo denied the allegations in depositions filed in connection with the case. Mr. Gagne and the lawyers involved in the case declined to discuss the terms of the settlement at that time.


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