Priest Denies Child Abuse Claim
It's Mistaken Identity, Weymouth Pastor Says
By Sue Reinert
January 6, 2005
A lawyer for the pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Weymouth says a child abuse accusation against the priest is a case of mistaken identity.
The Rev. Eugene P. Sullivan, 68, is among seven priests named in a suit filed by a 42-year-old Boston man who alleges that he was molested in 1977 when he was 15.
The Rev. Sullivan, who was superintendent of schools of the Boston Archdiocese at the time of the alleged incident, has never before been accused of sexual misconduct.
His lawyer, Paul Kelly, says the Rev. Sullivan is innocent.
"There is every reason to believe that this is a case of mistaken identity and the plaintiffs have the wrong Father Sullivan," Kelly said.
"There are multiple Father Eugene Sullivans who are more or less the same age. He has no knowledge of this plaintiff and vigorously denies the allegations. He is 68 years old, a priest for 36 years and has a completely unblemished record," Kelly said.
Another priest, the Rev. Eugene O'Sullivan, was convicted of raping an Arlington altar boy and was accused of molesting a number of boys and teenagers on the South Shore, including his nephew in Quincy and a Marshfield boy in 1964.
The Rev. Sullivan's accuser, however, said his assailant was a Catholic school official.
"He came to my house and took my mother's hand," he said. "My mother said to me to be on my best behavior because he was a top official in the archdiocese schools."
The Patriot Ledger is not naming the man because he is an alleged victim of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese has a policy of suspending priests who are the subjects of allegations it deems credible. A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said the suit is being reviewed.
In August, the archdiocese removed the Rev. Charles J. Murphy, 70, a priest at St. Francis Xavier for the past nine years, after he was named in a sex abuse suit brought by former students of the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph.
The suit against the Rev. Sullivan, filed Dec. 23, alleges that two of the defendants, including one named previously in suits and archdiocese records, also abused the 15-year-old boy. The rest were responsible for hiring, supervising and retaining priests. The plaintiff said the abuse occurred while the Rev. Sullivan was driving him to Camp Fatima, a Catholic summer camp in New Hampshire where others have said they were molested.
"I was a volunteer at Exceptional Children's Week and so was he," said the plaintiff, a construction worker .
He said that while driving north on Interstate 93, the Rev. Sullivan forced him to engage in mutual masturbation, and told him, "This is our little secret, let's keep it quiet."
The man said he never told anyone about the incident until calling Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented dozens of victims of priest sex abuse, about 10 months ago.
"Lots of shame, lots of guilt," he said. "It pretty much ruined my life."
The Rev. Edward Kelley and the Rev. Joseph Birmingham also allegedly abused the teenager while the priests were assigned to St. Columbkille Parish in Brighton, the lawsuit says.
The Rev. Birmingham, who has been accused by more than 50 people in lawsuits, died in 1989 and was not named in the December lawsuit.
The Rev. Kelley was also a defendant in numerous lawsuits and was one of the priests accused of molesting children at Camp Fatima.
Also named in the lawsuit are retired Brooklyn Bishop Thomas V. Daily, chancellor of the Boston Archdiocese from 1973 to 1983, and the Rev. Joseph P. Smyth, former director of priests' personnel for the Boston Archdiocese and now living in New Hampshire.
Three other defendants who acted as supervisors were not named because the plaintiff has not determined their identity.
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