DA: Grand Jury Got Messier Info
DSS Findings Given by Conte

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette
October 22, 2004

District Attorney John J. Conte said yesterday his office presented information regarding an alleged sexual abuse allegation against the Rev. Raymond P. Messier to the grand jury but the grand jury decided not to issue an indictment.

Mr. Conte said his office received information from the state Department of Social Services and presented it to the grand jury. The grand jury also heard what he called "live testimony" of the complaining witness. The grand jury then issued a "no bill," which means it would not issue an indictment against Rev. Messier.

No discussions were held with the Diocese of Worcester regarding this issue, he said. The diocese is required by state law and a grand jury subpoena to report any allegations of sexual misconduct, which it did in this case, he added. He said the case was never discussed with anyone in the diocese.

Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso on Wednesday released a copy of a letter from a DSS investigator to Rev. Messier stating that the department investigated an allegation of sexual abuse involving him and found support for the allegation.

Mr. Durso released the letter after a statement made earlier this week by Monsignor Thomas J. Sullivan, diocesan chancellor, stating that the diocese would not pay much money to settle some of the pending civil suits because they lacked as much merit as others and the state has a $20,000 cap on such settlements because of the "charitable immunity law."

The settlements being offered to victims of sexual abuse in this diocese are the lowest in the country and the world, Mr. Durso said at a press conference held Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court. He said some offers have been $3,000 and $7,500.

Mr. Durso also said he received a letter from Rev. Messier's lawyer, Robert Casey of Harvard, earlier this week stating the grand jury declined to indict Rev. Messier. Mr. Durso said he did not know whether the "no bill" he was informed of was related to the DSS investigation.

Mr. Durso, who represents three alleged victims of Rev. Messier, said the cases do have merit based not only on substance of the allegations but also a more recent investigation was done on the priest that had no connection to these alleged victims or lawsuits.

Rev. Messier was placed on administrative leave by the diocese from his parish assignments at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Athol, and St. Peter Church, Petersham, in 2002 when allegations of misconduct were made.


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