Records on Priests Targeted
Alleged Abuse Victim Is Pushing Diocese for Answers

Telegram & Gazette (Massachusetts)
February 15, 2003

WORCESTER - Craig Lecaire wants to see all of the records on accused priests within the Catholic Diocese of Worcester opened to public scrutiny, because he might get answers to his own questions regarding his abuse he says was at the hands of two priests.

Mr. Lecaire, of Spencer, said he was raped by the Rev. Brendan W. O'Donoghue, now retired, and sexually assaulted by the late Rev. Norman Jalbert.

"Grave harm is being done to the body of Christ and it needs to be taken care of," he said.

"Opening up all those files will certainly answer some of my questions. I have heard things. It appears that Brendan O'Donoghue was moved around the diocese and no one in the diocese has said why," Mr. Lecaire said.


A group of Worcester Diocese and Boston area Catholics will again be demonstrating starting at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Paul's Cathedral, and they said they will do so until the diocese opens up all personnel files on accused priests and financial records.

Mr. Lecaire, formerly an altar boy at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish, Spencer, left the Roman Catholic Church and is now a member of Holland Congregational Church.

He filed a civil suit against Rev. O'Donoghue several months ago, but had to withdraw it with prejudice when he was told the statute of limitations had run out. He was represented by James Ponsetto and Jeffrey K. Newman of Marblehead.

In his civil suit, Mr. Lecaire said that, while he was about age 11 and serving as an altar boy in Spencer, "I was raped as well as molested and fondled on a regular basis" by Rev. O'Donoghue from 1976 to 1978.


A first incident happened when he was preparing in the sacristy to put on his altar server robes, he said. He felt a hand touching his shoulder, he said, and Rev. O'Donoghue smiled and "proceeded to fondle across and down my shoulders to my chest, and my belly ... This was done in a very sensual, caressing manner, and made me extremely uncomfortable and awkward feeling. As he was caressing me, he said, 'Well, Craig, what a fine young man you're becoming.' "

The first rape was in June 1976, after he had done some gardening work at the parish, he said. He was invited by Rev. O'Donoghue upstairs to see where he lived. Entering his bedroom, he was surprised to find a picture with a naked boy in it hanging on the wall.

He said the priest told him that "he, as God's priest, and I, as one of Jesus' altar boys, had a special holy relationship that was different from the rest of the congregation. An important trust, and that anything that happened between he and I was considered sacred.

"He told me that if I were to ever talk about it to others, it would break this sacred trust and part of God's commandment, and if I did, I and possibly my mother and father could lose our souls to the devil in hell," Mr. Lecaire said. He said he believed the priest.


He said Rev. O'Donoghue told him that he must be tired from working in the gardens and that he should lie down on the bed and rest. Mr. Lecaire said he insisted he was OK, but the priest insisted and next told the youth to take off his pants and shirt so he would be more comfortable. Mr. Lecaire said Rev. O'Donoghue told him it was OK because "we were both men" and he was going to get undressed, too. The priest then proceeded to rape the boy, leaving him confused and in pain. He said that when he got home, he realized he was bleeding, but he dared tell no one.

Another incident happened shortly after, when he was in the church basement preparing for a religious education class. He was "fooling around" and acting up, and a woman stopped him and sent him to the priest for discipline. He was told to lean across a table and he was sexually assaulted. A series of sexual assaults happened over the next two years, he said.

Mr. Lecaire said after the last assault, he made sure he was never alone with Rev. O'Donoghue again. He was having serious psychological problems and prayed the rosary compulsively and constantly made the sign of the cross in his mouth with his tongue.

"By performing these holy rituals, I believed God would forgive me, as if it were my fault. This would cleanse me of the defiled dirtiness I believed I was," he said.


During his high school years, when he was having emotional difficulties, he turned to his guidance counselor at Holy Name High School, Worcester, who was the late Rev. Norman Jalbert.

Rev. Jalbert had been of some help to him with his school work, but then the invitations came to his camp in Spencer.

"One night I woke up and Father Jalbert was laying on top of me ..." he said. He threw him off, but Rev. Jalbert made two other assault attempts that night, without success, and there were no further incidents.

Ray Plante Jr. of Worcester recently said he was victim of a series of rapes by Rev. Jalbert at the camp. Mr. Plante was also a student at Holy Name. Mr. Lecaire, who knows Mr. Plante, said they hear there were more victims of Rev. Jalbert. "The whole truth needs to come out," he said.


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