Priest Living in Plymouth Arrested
Accused of Abusing an 8-Year-Old Child

By Sarah Coffey
Patriot Ledger
September 13, 2002

For The Patriot Ledger

PLYMOUTH - Police have arrested the Rev. John P. Lyons, a Pricilla Beach resident, on five counts of rape and abuse of a child.

The Rev. Lyons, who served as the pastor of St. Rose of Lima Catholic church in Rochester until May, pleaded innocent yesterday in Wareham District Court.

He was released on $7,500 cash bail and is due back in court for a status hearing on Oct. 3.

The Rev. Lyons is a long-time resident of John Alden Road. He was arrested at his home at 1 p.m. yesterday by Plymouth police and State Police detectives assigned to the Plymouth County District Attorney's office.

He is accused of molesting a boy from 1987 to 1989, beginning when the boy was 8, on church property.

"It appears (the boy) was going to CCD on different days than other children, and on different occasions would meet (the Rev. Lyons) in a room between the rectory and the church," Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz said.

The Rev. Lyons allegedly indecently touched the boy and on five occasions raped him orally, Cruz said.

The charges carry penalties ranging from probation to life in prison, he said. The Rev. Lyons could not be reached yesterday for comment on the charges against him.

The Archdiocese of Boston removed the Rev. Lyons from St. Rose's in May after two men filed a lawsuit claiming he had sexually abused them in the 1970s and 1980s at a Brighton church.

The two men allege that they were molested by the Rev. Lyons while serving as alter boys at Our Lady of the Presentation Church in Brighton.

In Plymouth County, the district attorney's office began investigating the Rev. Lyons in August after receiving a call from the now 23-year-old alleged victim on a sexual abuse hotline, Cruz said.

The victim is cooperating with investigators, he said.

"Any case which involves a much much older person sexually abusing a child is very serious. I take this allegation very seriously and construe it as a heinous act," he said.

The Rev. Lyons served at St. Rose's in Rochester the past 15 years, said the the Rev. James Lanergan, who has replaced Rev. Lyons at the parish.

The small, 1,600-member parish, the only Catholic church in Rochester, is still reeling from the allegations of abuse that surfaced earlier this year. Rev. Lyons was the only priest at St. Rose's and was in charge of every aspect of the church, including youth activities, Lanergan said.

"He was a well-admired man here in the parish and the people have been very supportive of him," he said. "The arrest is going to really stun the people here."

At the time the allegations against the Rev. Lyons were first reported, officials of the archdiocese said they would forward his name to the district attorney, which they did, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman.

The Rev. Lyons is still receiving his salary and medical benefits, the Rev. Coyne said.


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