May 24, 2005

Murder Haunts Catholic Church

CBS News

(CBS) Thirteen-year-old Danny Croteau was brutally murdered in 1972 and the only suspect in the case was his priest.

Father Richard Lavigne continued to work in the diocese of Springfield, Mass., for the next two decades, until two men accused him of sexually molesting them when they were boys.

Since then, 43 other men have accused Lavigne. The molestation charges against Lavigne led police to refocus the investigation into Danny's murder. Correspondent Dan Rather reports on the case on 60 Minutes Wednesday, May 25, at 8 p.m. ET/PT.

After Danny's murder, Lavigne, who had identified the body to police and participated in the funeral mass, became a suspect. Local police had circumstantial evidence against Lavigne at the time, but with no witnesses and no firm physical evidence, the district attorney did not prosecute.

Lavigne declined an interview with 60 Minutes Wednesday, but his lawyers maintain that Lavigne was not involved in Croteau's murder and point to crime-scene evidence that seems to support their claim.

Tom Martin disagrees. Martin is one of the 43 men who came forward about sexual abuse and he believes that Lavigne had a motive for killing Danny: to hide the dark secret of abuse that the boy was threatening to tell.

Posted by kshaw at May 24, 2005 11:50 AM