Sexual Abuse Civil Suit Filed against Rev. Bartlett, Diocese

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
June 8, 2002

A civil suit was filed in Worcester Superior Court yesterday against the Rev. Lee F. Bartlett and the Catholic Diocese of Worcester in connection with alleged sexual abuse of two men when they were in their early teens.

Joseph P. Cote, now of New Hampshire, and Kevin A. Donnelly, now of California, said they were forced to participate in what they called the "Greek Olympics" while at Cape Cod with the priest. They and other boys who were guests at Rev. Bartlett's Eastham home were given alcoholic beverages and then pressured to run naked through the streets of Eastham near his home on Wier Road at Shady Lane.

Lawyer Daniel J. Shea, who is representing the men, said they were required by Massachusetts law to sign a statement under oath that all their allegations are true.

"The facts cited by these men speak for themselves," Mr. Shea said.

Raymond L. Delisle, diocesan spokesman, said the diocese has not seen the suit yet and he will not comment on a civil suit pending before the courts.

Bishop Daniel P. Reilly removed Rev. Bartlett from active ministry in March after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against the priest.

Mr. Cote said that Rev. Bartlett "manipulated their relationship" by encouraging him to drink sizable amounts of Eucharistic wine at St. Leo's parish in Leominster.

According to the lawsuit, Rev. Bartlett began a relationship with Mr. Donnelly while he was at St. Leo's by "insinuating himself into the Donnelly family." The family had been members of St. Leo's for three generations.

Mr. Donnelly said he was sexually fondled by Rev. Bartlett at age 12 when he was a choir boy in the parish.

Both said that they were "made to participate" in the "Greek Olympics." Mr. Cote said the priest got him and other boys, who were about age 13, intoxicated, had them remove their clothing and run through the streets.

Mr. Donnelly said that on one of the trips to the Cape, another underage friend was told to remove his clothes and run to the priest's home while Rev. Bartlett and Mr. Donnelly followed him in a car.

Mr. Donnelly stated in the suit that he was about 13 when the incidents took place. On one occasion, he said, he and other youths were given alcoholic beverages by Rev. Bartlett, then told to swim naked at a beach in Eastham.

Mr. Cote said that the priest took photos of boys running in the nude. He said the priest also showed boys pornographic movies in the rectory of St. Leo's parish. The movies also were shown to him and other minors at the Eastham home, he said.

Mr. Cote said that when he was 13 he was given alcoholic beverages by Rev. Bartlett and was sexually molested during the summer of 1977 by the priest at the Cape Code home. Mr. Donnelly said he also was 13 when the same thing happened to him during the summer of 1979 in Eastham.

Mr. Cote said the abuse continued the next summer, and that he also was molested by Rev. Bartlett when they were together in Paris in 1980.

In the lawsuit, the men said that for years they believed that the abuse by the priest was permissible.


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