Church Addresses Camp Abuse Claims

Boston Herald
May 27, 2002

MANCHESTER, N.H. - The Diocese of Manchester said yesterday it did not receive a complaint about a former priest accused of sexually abusing a child at a summer camp it runs until after the man died in February.

The diocese said the report of misconduct with a minor was not related to the Rev. Karl Dowd's ministry at Camp Fatima, an idyllic collection of lakeside cabins it runs in Gilmanton.

In a statement, the diocese did not elaborate on the complaint it received, but said it is being investigated. A spokesman could not be reached for comment.

"Reports about deceased persons do not pose a public safety issue, however, all accusations are thoroughly investigated," the diocese said.

The diocese also responded to an Associated Press report Saturday that at least eight clergymen face abuse allegations involving Camp Fatima.

The diocese reiterated yesterday that prior to the story, it had not received any reports of sexual misconduct with minors by priests at the camp.

But in March, the Herald reported that New Hampshire prosecutors were looking at possible sexual misconduct at the camp, where accused molesters the Revs. Ronald H. Paquin and Edward T. Kelley were said to have been frequent visitors.

Another, the Rev. Robert V. Gale, was permitted by Manchester Bishop John McCormack to conduct a Mass at the camp. Like Paquin, Gale has been suspended by the Boston archdiocese due to sex abuse charges.

Also, records show the late Rev. Thomas F. Dempsey, a priest who pleaded guilty to child molesting in La Crosse, Wis., in 1997, worked at Camp Fatima in the 1950s before his ordination.

More recently, earlier this month, a Hudson, N.H., man claimed a teacher at a Roman Catholic high school in Nashua, N.H., sexually molested him there in the 1970s.

McCormack said he is "deeply saddened by the report that a child may have been harmed," and indicated that "he is willing to assist anyone who has been hurt by another in the church."

County prosecutor Lauren Noether last week would not disclose the number and nature of allegations at the camp, which is host to several hundred boys ages 6-15 each summer. Authorities said all the alleged assaults happened at least a decade ago.

Among the accusations: A Manchester man said he was 9 years old and had just been chosen as an altar boy when Dowd, the director of the Roman Catholic summer camp, sexually assaulted him in the camp's chapel in 1972.

Dowd was the camp's director from 1968 to 1990.


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