Clergy Abuse Victim Finds Vindication

By Kathryn Marchocki
Union Leader
June 11, 2005

MANCHESTER -- John A. Moody was 15 when he says a Manchester priest molested him, but he kept silent for 20 years because he thought no one would believe him over an esteemed cleric and community leader.

Long-awaited vindication came yesterday when Moody learned Pope John Paul II defrocked the Roman Catholic priest, Ronald E. Corriveau, 60, on March 21.

"This is just completely huge that it was (the Pope). It was the Vatican. It's the Catholic world . . . and this guy who is the head of it and they deemed it enough to defrock this guy," said Moody, now 38.

Moody, a tractor-trailer driver who lives in greater Manchester, said he got goosebumps when his lawyer called him on the road yesterday to tell him about the Vatican's decision.

"I just feel totally vindicated. As a victim, you feel like nobody is ever going to believe you and now I feel like everybody knows and everybody believes," Moody said.

"It's an awesome feeling," he added. "No matter what, you carry that with you. It will never go away. I'm not speechless, but pretty close."

Moody said Corriveau fondled him in 1982 after a party in the rectory of St. Francis of Assisi parish, then in south Manchester.

Moody said he was not a member of the parish, but his mother and stepfather belonged to it and they wanted him to become Catholic.

"They were trying to get me on the path. Little did they know," he said.

Corriveau, who was ordained a priest in 1971 and last served as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Epping, could not be reached for comment yesterday. His sister-in-law, who answered the telephone at Corriveau's brother's Nashua home, said she had not heard from Corriveau and only learned of the Vatican's decision when she read it in the newspaper yesterday.

Moody said he hid his secret for decades, telling only his wife.

"The way I felt was, who was going to believe a 15-year-old kid or are they going to believe a guy who . . . was huge in the community?" Moody said.

It was only when the most recent clergy sexual abuse scandal became public three years ago that Moody, then 35, decided to come forward, filing civil suit against both the Manchester diocese and Corriveau.

"I did a lot of soul searching and everything and there were certain things I wanted to come out of this. One, just vindication. I wanted people to know that (Corriveau) wasn't the person he portrayed himself to be," Moody said over the telephone as he drove his rig through the Keene area last night.

Corriveau was pastor of St. Joseph in Epping when the diocese learned of the allegation against him March 11, 2002. He has remained on administrative leave since.

The diocese announced the Vatican's decision to "laicize" Corriveau Thursday. The action bars a priest from acting in any way as a priest or receiving any of the benefits of a priest, including financial benefits.

While Moody settled his suits with the diocese and Corriveau in 2002, Moody said his reasons for coming forward were never "about money or retribution."

"I needed people to know I am telling the truth," he said.

Moody said he has a lot of faith, but would not call himself a "very religious person." He said he, his wife and children are Episcopalians.

He said he is most proud of the 13 years of sobriety he has maintained.

When Moody made his complaint against Corriveau in 2002, a diocesan spokesman said it was the first report of sexual misconduct received against Corriveau.

Several months after Corriveau was placed on administrative leave, St. Joseph parishioners found pornography on the parish computer. A state prosecutor said the matter was referred to Epping police for investigation.

"There was pornography there, but there were no criminal charges as a result of it," said Epping police Chief Gregory C. Dodge, noting the material found on the computer did not involve children. He said the case closed Feb. 12, 2004.

Senior Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker said he believes the statute of limitations has not expired on the abuse allegation against Corriveau; the ex-priest still could face criminal charges.

Corriveau is one of 27 living priests in the New Hampshire diocese credibly accused of sexually abusing minors whose cases have been sent to the Vatican for possible punitive action since November, 2002, church officials have said.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith already ruled on some cases, imposing the lesser penalty of permanently barring those priests from ministry, church officials have said.

Corriveau is the first diocesan priest to be defrocked in New Hampshire since the clergy sexual abuse scandal became public in 2002.

"It's over. It's finally over. That's pretty much it. It's been a long time," Moody said.


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