Mom Defends Ex-Priest Son Accused of Sexual Abuse

By Robin Washington and Franci Richardson
Boston Herald
January 31, 2003

Though Louis J. Govoni's name has surfaced twice this week in connection with the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, the former priest's mother says she will not abandon her son.

"'He was wonderful until all this crap came up. I love him just the same no matter what he's done," she said of the son who spent only five years as a priest.

On Wednesday, Govoni's name appeared among those of 40 priests named in suits by attorney Mitchell Garabedian. Yesterday, internal church files released by lawyer Roderick MacLeish Jr. offered further details on Govoni and nine other accused clergymen.

Govoni's file includes claims he molested a 14-year-old boy at Quincy's St. Joseph's Church in the 1970s and a 1977 memo to Humberto Cardinal Medeiros warning that the priest was overly friendly with teenage boys. His mother worried how he would cope.

"I've been trying to get him but I don't know where he went. He's almost 60 years old. He's got (his own) children, too," she said.

Other files include those of:

— Xaverian Brother John Dagwell, who became director of the Crossroads Homeless Shelter at East Boston's Most Holy Redeemer Parish in August 1995, despite an allegation he had molested a client at Boston's St. Francis House shelter between 1989 and 1992.

At his hiring, Crossroads officials apparently did not know of that or the fact Dagwell had been on probation for sexual offenses in New Jersey and treated at Maryland's St. Luke's Institute, which warned he not be placed with children or young adults. In less than two months, Dagwell's past was revealed and he was removed.

— The Rev. Raymond A. Prybis, who is accused of luring a teenager into the basement of Sacred Heart Parish in Lowell, where he emerged naked and asked the boy to beat him with a belt as he lay face-down on a table.

The boy, who reported the case to authorities in 1992 when he was 23, acknowledged belting Prybis once before fleeing for home.

When Prybis followed him, pleading "just to talk to me," the boy's father threw him against a car, the file states. The family reported the incident to church officials, who promised to send Prybis to therapy.

— The Rev. Barry Bossa was transferred to Europe in July from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Yonkers, N.Y., three months before two alleged victims filed a suit. He allegedly molested two 10-year-olds at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Bridgewater in the 1970s.

— The Rev. Patrick Tague, now 64, is accused of abusing a former Department of Youth Services client when Tague was on the staff of a Hyde Park facility in 1971.

Tague was later found guilty of stealing $ 300,000 of state and federal funds, but served no jail time.

— The late Paul Hightower, who left the priesthood and had a family before his 1994 death, is alleged to have molested a 7-year-old resident at Jamaica Plain's Nazareth Child Care Center in the 1960s.

After leaving the priesthood, Hightower died suddenly at 47 while recounting to Brockton police how he saved a group of kids from being run over by a drunken driver.

Files were also released yesterday on the Revs. Jon C. Martin, a priest who oversaw convicted pedophile Christopher Reardon and against whom an allegation of abuse was lodged in April 2002; Leonard Bacigalupo, Richard Moran and Charles Aubut, who died last year.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.