July 14, 2005

Hearing set for priest accused of abuse

Boston Globe

By Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff | July 14, 2005

In a rare case of a clergyman facing criminal charges for alleged sexual misconduct that occurred decades ago, a priest who served a Norton parish is expected to plead guilty tomorrow to charges that he raped and molested a local girl beginning when she was 9 years old.

Bristol County prosecutors allege that the Rev. Donald Bowen raped the girl over a seven-year period in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he was stationed at St. Mary's Parish.

Under the statute of limitations for rape cases, prosecutors would have ordinarily been barred from bringing charges when the victim came forward to authorities in the late 1990s, but Bowen froze the clock by moving to Bolivia to pursue missionary work in 1972. Bowen, 67, left active ministry and returned to Massachusetts in 2002 after learning that charges had been filed against him.

Bristol District Attorney Paul F. Walsh confirmed the scheduled plea hearing yesterday and said that prosecutors would ''absolutely be recommending jail time, no matter what," for Bowen.

''I think this guy should go to jail for what he did to a little girl," Walsh said. ''If these abuses occurred more recently, he would be facing multiple counts of rape and he would be looking at serious jail time."

Posted by kshaw at July 14, 2005 02:14 AM