2 More Say Messier Assaulted Them - Suit Filed against Priest, Worcester Diocese

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
September 4, 2002

Worcester — Two additional men say they were sexually assaulted by the Rev. Raymond P. Messier at his camp in Charlton and at St. Joan of Arc Parish.

The incidents allegedly happened in the late 1970s, when Rev. Messier was assigned to St. Joan of Arc Parish and they were boys involved with the parish-based Boy Scout troop, according to Boston lawyer Carmen Durso. Rev. Messier was diocesan scouting director from 1973 to 1977, when he was replaced by another priest.The two latest accusers joined another man in filing a civil suit yesterday in Worcester Superior Court against Rev. Messier and the Worcester Diocese. The first accuser said he was sexually assaulted by Rev. Messier when he was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish in Worcester.

The men are identified in court documents only as John Doe, James Coe and Robert Roe. Mr. Durso said he often recommends that his clients use pseudonyms to protect their families from being stigmatized. The names are made known to parties to the suit, however.

Rev. Messier was removed by Bishop Daniel P. Reilly from his pastorships of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Athol and St. Peter Parish in Petersham in June after the first allegation.

Rev. Messier denied the first allegation and has retained Harvard lawyer Robert Casey to represent him. Many of his parishioners in Athol want him returned to the parish and have displayed a banner of support in front of the Main Street church. Mr. Casey did not return a telephone call yesterday seeking a comment about the new allegations. The diocese does not comment on civil suits.

The mother of the first victim said that when she found out about the sexual attack on her son, she went to the late Bishop Timothy J. Harrington. A meeting was held with the boy's therapist at Worcester Youth Guidance Center.

The woman said Bishop Harrington told her in the presence of Rev. Messier and the therapist that the priest would never again be in a position where he had access to young people. The bishop also told her that Rev. Messier would be sent to the House of Affirmation, which at the time was a treatment clinic for clergy and religious, many of whom had sexual problems.

She recently discovered on a visit to Sacred Heart Parish that Rev. Messier had been moved to Athol and Petersham and was pastoring two parishes with young parishioners.

John Doe said in the suit that he was 12 and a member of St. Joan of Arc when Rev. Messier assaulted him numerous times in 1976 and 1977. These acts included alleged genital fondling and other attempted and threatened acts of assault.

James Coe was the same age and a member of that parish when assaulted by Rev. Messier, according to the suit. The acts occurred in the church basement and included anal and oral penetration and numerous acts of genital fondling, according to the suit.

Robert Roe said he was about age 9 in 1981 and a member of Sacred Heart Parish when he was sexually assaulted by Rev. Messier in Charlton. The assault included attempted anal penetration, he said.

According to the suit, these men have been told "and believe that defendant Messier committed sexual assault on other young male members of the diocese under his care and supervision.'' They alleged that the bishop knew of Rev. Messier's "prior and ongoing sexual assaults'' and should have stopped him.

Rev. Messier, 60, served at St. Joan of Arc from 1976 to 1978 and was transferred to Sacred Heart in 1978. He was then transferred to St. Roch Parish in Oxford where he served until going to Petersham in 1984. In Petersham, he replaced the Rev. Brendan O'Donoghue who has been charged in two civil suits with molesting boys.


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