March 11, 2006

Money, the church and a Ponzi scheme

Worcester Magazine

By Noah Schaffer

The city of Worcester has paid $135,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim and lawsuit filed by a city employee. Among the claims in the case were that Stephen Willand, the Catholic head of the city’s Office of Employment and Training, wrongfully denied a promotion to an employee, Edward Gagne, who had sued the Catholic Church for alleged sexual abuse by priests. The case also claimed that Willand had sexually harassed Gagne.

A deposition in the case by another former employee casts Willand, who is paid $107,000 a year to manage the region-wide Workforce Central operation, as a vindictive manager. The deposition suggests that Willand was angry with Gagne over the demise of a Ponzi scheme cooked up by a one-time Workforce Central official that embarrassed several prominent Worcester families. ...

The second issue between Willand and Gagne involved Gagne’s suit against the Catholic Church for abuse Gagne allegedly suffered at the hands of two priests, Baltas testified. “Mr. Willand was visibly upset about that, that day that it hit the newspapers ... he had a very difficult time understanding why anyone could sue the church. Because ... Mr. Willand considered himself a very prominent member of St. George’s parish in Worcester, and the suit would affect him, it would affect his relationship with the parish’s men’s club, and was a very bad image for both him and the city manager and the City of Worcester.”

When Baltas suggested that Gagne should get a promotion and raise like his colleagues were receiving, “Willand indicated to me that that was not going to happen, most certainly, because he was suing the church, and he wasn’t going to reward that.”

Posted by kshaw at March 11, 2006 08:44 PM