January 15, 2006

Clergy abuse victims deserve to be heard

The Republican

Sunday, January 15, 2006
Since 1991, when police charged a local Roman Catholic priest named Richard R. Lavigne with rape and indecent assault of a child, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic church has captured the attention of Western Massachusetts.

In the years that followed, more than 40 priests associated with the Diocese of Springfield, either in parishes or schools, were accused of sexual abuse. Some accusations dated back to the former administrations of Bishop Christopher J. Weldon and Bishop Joseph D. Maguire.

On Sept. 24, 2004, Thomas L. Dupre, then the spiritual leader of the 270,000 Roman Catholics in Western Massachusetts and the administrator of a 2004 report on sexual abuse in the diocese, became the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States to be indicted on child rape cases.

Only hours after the indictments were unsealed, Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett said he could not prosecute the case because the charges were too old under the state's 15-year statute of limitation

The disturbing history of the Springfield diocese and its history of denial demonstrates the need for legislation eliminating the statute of limitations in criminal and civil cases involving sexual abuse of juveniles.

Posted by kshaw at January 15, 2006 03:05 AM