May 02, 2005

Probe points to prospective ring


Monday, May 02, 2005

The investigator hired to probe the 1972 unsolved murder of 13-year-old altar boy Daniel Croteau says he now suspects that a ring of about 10 pedophiles, many of them priests, operated a sexual abuse ring that preyed upon children at the time Croteau was killed.

"These priests formed their own Internet before any Internet existed," said private detective and former state trooper R.C. Stevens recently. "It allowed them to exchange information and strategies, share children, and rid themselves of them."

He has been investigating the murder for The Republican since last summer. His interviews of alleged victims, including those who have already publicly accused some priests, point to a conspiracy among some of the predators to pass around children.

Stevens said that Croteau may have had contact with multiple members of the ring. The only identified suspect in Croteau's death was defrocked priest Richard R. Lavigne of Chicopee.

Lavigne, who served 10 years probation after admitting to molesting two boys, has been accused by more than 30 others, including one who said the then-priest introduced him to another priest in Vermont who also molested him.

Last August, 45 alleged victims of 18 priests settled sexual abuse lawsuits with the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese for about $7.5 million.

Stevens believes that Lavigne was a member of the ring of pedophiles, but he would not name other individuals. Lavigne has denied involvement in the Croteau slaying and other sexual abuse cases.

Posted by kshaw at May 2, 2005 09:14 AM