January 07, 2005

Priests accused in suits


Friday, January 07, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - One of the six clergy abuse suits filed this week in Hampden Superior Court makes the first accusation against a monsignor who died in 1991, saying he held out the promise of a Cathedral High School education to his alleged victim.

Although the late Monsignor Timothy L. Leary was not named as a defendant, the suit filed by a 48-year-old Springfield man under the pseudonym "Frank Doe" alleges Leary abused him for five years beginning in the fourth grade.

Mark E. Dupont, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, said the diocese has not previously received a complaint of abuse against Leary.

The man who filed the suit said Leary held out the hope of entry and tuition to Cathedral. "The abuse stopped in eighth grade when I walked away from the church upon discovering they weren't going to help my education. I wanted a good education so badly," he said.

His suit states Leary introduced the boy to the Rev. Francis P. Lavelle, who separately abused him and made the same promise of an education. Lavelle, who was permanently removed from ministry by the diocese more than a year ago because of credible allegations of sexual abuse, is named as the defendant in the suit.

Lavelle's lawyer, C.J. Moriarty, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Leary, a Worcester native, died at age 81 in 1991. He served in many prestigious positions in the diocese, including overseeing the planning of Cathedral High School before its construction and serving as the school's director.

Leary also served as rector of St. Michael's Cathedral and as diocesan director of cemeteries.

Posted by kshaw at January 7, 2005 05:23 AM