Three accuse priest of sexual
Lowell -- Three former Lowell altar boys, now in their 30s, have accused the late Rev.Czeslaw Szymanski, O.S.P., of Holy Trinity Parish, of molesting them more than 20 years ago.
"He was a monster who damaged lives and ruined their faith,'' said Boston attorney Carmen L. Durso, who has worked on dozens of cases in the ongoing priest sex-abuse scandal.
At a press conference at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center yesterday, Durso challenged the archdioceses of Boston and Providence where Szymanski served to release his personnel files "so we can find out what (his superiors) knew and when they knew it.''
It was only recently that the three men -- two of whom live in the area and one who lives out-of-state -- approached Durso about the alleged sexual abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Szymanski, Durso said. Szymanski, who died in a car crash in 1987, was never charged with any crimes linked to these allegations.
Durso said the three men approached him because they wanted other possible men who might have been abused to come forward to get help. No lawsuit has been filed in this case.
"They are angry about what (allegedly) happened to them and other kids and that adults ignored it,'' Durso said.
Referring to the men as John Does 1, 2, 3, Durso alleged the three men were sexually abused between the ages of 6 and 13 while serving as altar boys at Holy Trinity Parish at 340 High St. from 1983 to 1987. Two of the boys, now both 33, were allegedly molested between the ages of 6 and 10, he said. The third boy, now 38, was allegedly abused between the ages of 10 and 13, he said.
Durso alleges Szymanski would fondle the boys in the Holy Trinity Church sacristy before celebrating Mass. He said the alleged sexual abuse continued on a daily basis until 1987, when Szymanski was hastily transferred to the Peterborough, Ontario Diocese in Canada.
Durso wants the Archdiocese of Boston and Szymanski's former order -- the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit of Ontario -- to publicly acknowledge at Masses throughout the area and in the media that the priest allegedly molested these three men and possibly more.
Durso said other boys could have been molested and he hopes they come forward. He said they should be aware that counseling is available through the Archdiocese of Boston, the Greater Lowell Rape Crisis Center and the National Survivor Advocates Coalition.
The Archdiocese of Boston issued a statement relating to complaints against Szymanski.
"We are troubled and saddened any time new allegations are brought to our attention and, today, we extend our concern and prayers for the individuals and parish communities impacted by this difficult news. We have notified law enforcement of these allegations and are awaiting additional detail from the claimants," wrote Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Lynch said Szymanski was a religious order priest ordained in Poland by the Order of St. Paul the First Hermit. He was not a priest of the Boston Archdiocese, but was given an assignment in 1981 to serve as a parochial vicar (i.e., associate pastor) at Holy Trinity Parish, a parish that serves the Polish community in Lowell and vicinity. His assignment in the Archdiocese ended in April 1987.
Szymanski was killed in a car accident Sept. 24, 1987 in Albany, N.Y. According to his obituary in The Sun, Szymanski apparently lost control of his car, which went off the highway, crashed through trees and stopped in Frisbee Creek. He was 45.
Lynch wrote, "The Archdiocese will work to resolve these claims against the late Fr. Czeslaw Szymanski, O.S.P, in accordance with its policies. The Archdiocese has offered counseling to the individuals who have come forward and will proceed in a manner that is just and respectful of survivors' pastoral needs.''
"We appreciate the courage shown by the individuals who have come forward with this important information and encourage any person with additional information to contact our Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach by calling 781-794-2581. All calls are received with great respect and sensitivity."
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