Franciscan Brother Is Charged with Molesting 4 Boston Boys

New York Times
August 15, 2002

A Franciscan brother was arrested today on charges of sexually abusing four altar boys at a Roman Catholic church in the East Boston section of the city three decades ago.

The accused is Brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, 75, who is charged with molesting the boys at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at various times from 1968 to 1973.

The boys, 8 to 13 years old, were abused in various places in the church or the rectory, including Brother DeBerardinis's bedroom and a room designated as a "club" for altar boys, said David Procopio, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney, Daniel Conley.

Brother DeBerardinis was indicted on 11 counts, including rape and attempted rape of a child, on Aug. 6. But, Mr. Procopio said, the indictment was sealed because the authorities wanted the defendant in custody before announcing it, and he was living out of state, at a friary in Clearwater Beach, Fla.

Officers tried to arrest him there but discovered that he was visiting his sister's home in Lowell, Mass., where he was seized today. He will be arraigned on Thursday.

Interviewed after the indictment and arrest were announced late this afternoon, Mr. Procopio said he did not know whether a lawyer had yet been retained to speak for Brother DeBerardinis. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston said she had no information, and there was no immediate response to a message left this evening at national Franciscan headquarters, in New York.

As Brother DeBerardinis was taken into custody, a priest indicted last week on two counts of child rape pleaded not guilty.

After his arraignment, that defendant, the Rev. Paul W. Hurley, criticized prosecutors' pursuit of priests accused of sexual abuse. "A lot of priests feel they're just one allegation away," Father Hurley said.

As for the charges against him, he said he was shocked, and added, "I just feel sorry for everybody."


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