Pastor Quits after Allegation of Abuse

By Daniel Barbarisi
Providence Journal-Bulletin (Rhode Island)
March 20, 2002

A longtime Fall River priest has resigned in the face of allegations that he sexually abused a minor.

The Rev. Robert S. Kaszynski, 67, offered his resignation Friday as pastor of St. Stanislaus Parish and school after an alleged victim accused him of sexual abuse in the mid-1960s. Father Kaszynski had served at St. Stanislaus for 40 years.

Sean O'Malley, bishop of Fall River, met with the St. Stanislaus Parish Council Monday night to discuss the situation, and yesterday informed parents that he had accepted Father Kaszynski's resignation via letter.

"My primary concern is for anyone who has suffered because of the actions of this priest of the diocese. I offer my profound apology and my support. We can only imagine the pain and sense of betrayal caused by clerical sexual abuse," Bishop O'Malley wrote in the letter.

Father Kaszynski will be allowed to remain a priest, but will not work in the ministry again, according to diocese spokesman John Kearns.

"He has resigned as a pastor. He will simply not receive another assignment," Kearns said, noting that the resignation was just that, and not necessarily an admission of guilt.

The accusation was made directly to the diocese rather than through the court system, and Kearns said he knew of no legal action planned by the Bristol County District Attorney's office. The DA's office did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

At St. Stanislaus, a coed school for kindergarten through eighth grade, several parents picking up their children were shocked to hear the news about their pastor.

"I'm stunned and I'm saddened. I'm saddened to hear that he's caught up in all this," said Mona Isaacson, who has children in the school.

"That's just one person. It's not something I worry about," she said. "It's not a new problem, it's been there for years, and I don't think the church ever knew how to deal with it."

Several faculty members said the accusation took them by complete surprise, but they were supportive of their former pastor, known casually around school as "Father K."

Principal Denita Tremblay, who was an eighth grader at the school when Father Kaszynski arrived in 1962, said that the pastor was a figure beloved by all at St. Stanislaus.

"When he came into the building, the kids always ran up to him. They're asking about him already. They're wondering where he is," she said, adding, "The children would love to see him, as would the faculty."

Tremblay said that several assemblies were to be held this morning to answer any questions students might have. The students will be separated according to grade level.

Kearns said that Bishop O'Malley is hoping to appoint a new pastor for St. Stanislaus "sooner rather than later." The diocese will also take a close look at its policies and safeguards regarding sexual abuse.

Father Kaszynski originally from New Bedford, was ordained in 1960. He came to St. Stanislaus two years later on a temporary basis, but remained for the next 40 years. He has taught numerous classes, including religion and sexual education.

St. Stanislaus Parish was founded in 1898. The church burned down in 1991, but was rebuilt the following year.


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