Priest Sex Scandal Spreading

By Kevin Rothstein and Alisha Berger
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
February 8, 2002

The Boston Archdiocese's sex scandal continues to expand as parishioners, for the second time in a week, were told that priests accused of molesting children have been suspended. At least 60 priests have been named by alleged victims.

Despite previous assurances from the Archdiocese that all such priests had already been removed, 22 more priests have been accused of child sex abuse. Six of them were suspended, including three with South Shore roots, church officials said yesterday.

One of the six is the Rev. Gerald J. Hickey, 64, a Scituate native working at St. Helen's Church in Norwell. He was suspended because of a single allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, the Archdiocese said.

He was pastor of St. Bridget's Church in Abington from 1987 until he abruptly left with no official explanation in the mid-1990s, several parishioners recalled.

Word of the Rev. Hickey's suspension stunned parishioners.

"It came as quite a shock. I always viewed him, and still view him, as a wonderful man, a wonderful priest," said Richard Hartigan of Norwell, a longtime St. Helen's parishioner.

The Rev. Thomas P. Forry, 60, a priest who has served at parishes in Scituate, Kingston and Weymouth before becoming an Army chaplain in the 1980s, was also suspended because of an allegation.

The Rev. David C. Murphy, 65, a Milton native who has been chaplain at Brockton Hospital for a year, was suspended because of more than one allegation of molestation, the Archdiocese said. A hospital spokesman could not be reached last night and today.

On Saturday, the Rev. Paul Finegan was suspended from St. Bernadette Church in Randolph and the Rev. Donald Graham was suspended from St. Joseph's Church in Quincy Point. An Archdiocese spokesman said no replacements had been chosen yet.

In January, Cardinal Bernard F. Law said he was aware of no priests accused of sexual molestation who were in active ministry.

The new names were released yesterday by Archdiocese officials, who noted their review of personnel records is continuing. Some records reviewed were more than 40 years old.

Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said he received late yesterday the names of five priests accused of molesting children in Plymouth County "a number of years ago."

Including names received last month, Plymouth County prosecutors have been told of eight priests accused of molestation.

Norfolk County prosecutors have said they are seeking information on 10 priests or former priests, not including one who was publicly suspended by the Archdiocese Saturday.

Prosecutors in several counties have asked the Archdiocese to provide names of alleged victims. The Archdiocese said yesterday it was trying to find the alleged victims to ask permission to share names and addresses with authorities.

Also suspended yesterday were the Rev. James F. Power, 71, a temporary parochial vicar at Saint James the Great Church in Wilmington; the Rev. Robert A. Ward Jr., 55, who worked in the Archdiocese development office since January 2001; and the Rev. Richard A. Buntel, 56, a business manager at St. Dorothy's in Wilmington.

The Rev. Hickey had been technically unassigned but was "assisting" at St. Helen's, the Archdiocese said in a press release.

Edward Boyle of Norwell, a lector at the church and an Eucharist minister, said the Rev. Hickey had been assigned to the St. Helen's for about six years. He described the priest as the "glue" who once held together the parish while the pastor was ill.

"He's an extremely kind and compassionate human being who has been of great comfort and support to a number of St. Helen's parishioners during their time of need. I would hope that the parishioners would support him at this time," Boyle said.

When the Rev. Hickey was in Abington, he had a gentle way with children and a way of speaking from the heart that endeared him to Frank Quinn of Abington.

Another priest who worked at St. Bridget's, the Rev. Anthony Charles Jezowski, left around the same time as the Rev. Hickey, Quinn said.

The Rev. Jezowski, who is listed in an Archdiocese directory as being on health leave, lives with the Rev. Hickey at the Rev. Hickey's boyhood home on Kent Street in Scituate. A phone message left there yesterday was not returned.

The Rev. Hickey's brother, Edward Hickey, was a Secret Service agent who became head of the Federal Maritime Commission under President Ronald Reagan. He died in 1988. Another brother, William Hickey, was legal counsel to the city of Quincy in the early 1980s.

As a priest, the Rev. Forry preached against the Vietnam War. He eventually joined the Army as a chaplain and became an unarmed member of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Gulf War.

During the 1970s, he opened a coffee house at the Metropolitan District Commission skating rink in Milton as a way to keep kids off drugs.

"Tommy was always a very restless fellow, very active, and he always felt he'd like to join the armed services," his sister-in-law, Ann Forry of Milton, said in a 1990 Patriot Ledger article.

The Archdiocese also was hit by two new lawsuits alleging the church knew of the abuse but failed to stop it.

A lawsuit filed in Middlesex Superior Court charged Cardinal Law with negligence by failing to protect a boy from abuse by now defrocked priest John J. Geoghan of Scituate.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit filed in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of four former altar boys accuses the Rev. Paul W. Desilets of molesting them when he was assigned to Assumption Parish in Bellingham and the Archdiocese of failing to protect them.

In the suit naming Cardinal Law, Christopher T. Fulchino, now 25 and living in Maine, alleges he was abused by Geoghan in 1989 when he was 13. Fulchino and his parents charge Cardinal Law knew or should have known Geoghan was sexually abusing children at parishes before being moved to St. Julia's in Weston in 1984.

Geoghan, who was recently convicted of sexual abuse, faces 80 civil lawsuits and two more criminal cases.

The Archdiocese is facing other lawsuits by people alleging abuse by Geoghan, and the victims of former church worker Christopher Reardon, who was sentenced to 40 to 50 years after pleading guilty last year to molesting 24 boys.


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