The Associated Press reports that a lawyer for clergy sex abuse victims released six new names of clerics accused of abuse, saying that it shows that a crisis that began a decade ago is far from over. One of the priests is the Rev. James Nickel, a Sacred Heart priest who worked in Fairhaven and Cape Cod parishes in the Fall River diocese.
One of the men, who served in New Jersey, is alive. The other five, who served in various Northeast states, are dead, including two who were priests in the Boston Archdiocese.
One of the Boston priests, the Rev. James Lane, reported the notorious abuser John Geoghan to church leaders during the 1980s.
At a news conference, Attorney Mitchell Garabedian singled out the Boston Archdiocese for not disclosing its names first.
“We’re doing their work for them by exposing these priests so children can be made safer and victims can heal,” Garabedian said.
Terry Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said Lane and the Rev. Rickard O’Donovan will be added to its list of priests who’ve been accused of child sex abuse, which was posted online in August.
But Donilon told the AP that the archdiocese was unable to substantiate the accusations against Lane and O’Donovan because they died before the accusations surfaced.
“Every effort is made to fully investigate such claims, but without the ability to question the accused priest, the investigation is limited,” he said.
He added the archdiocese will “continue to provide support to survivors and all people who have suffered as a result of clergy sexual abuse.”
The clergy sex abuse crisis started in 2002 in Boston and eventually went global after The Boston Globe published stories showing church officials shifted pedophile priests between parishes while keeping quiet about their crimes.
In Garabedian’s updated list, the three other deceased clerics who worked in Massachusetts were: Nickel; Brother Peter-Claver, of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart order, who worked at schools in Sharon and Andover, as well as schools in Rhode Island and New Hampshire; and the Rev. Leonard Walsh, a Franciscan who worked in Brookline after postings in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
The living cleric is the Rev. Augustus Scott. He was a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual working in the Camden, N.J., diocese during the time the abuse is alleged to have occurred between 1969 and 1970. Garabedian said Scott fondled his 16-year-old client several times in Scott’s car. He said Scott now lives in North Carolina.
The AP’s attempt to reach Scott by searching phone listings was unsuccessful. A spokesman for the Camden diocese said Scott is not an active priest and he doesn’t know where he is.
At a news conference, Robert Perron said the Boston priest O’Donovan molested him more than 20 times starting at age 9 in the rectory of a church in Brockton. He said for years he battled unspecified “demons” related to the abuse before contacting Garabedian in 2010. He said he spoke out Wednesday to urge others who might have been abused by O’Donovan to disclose it, so they can get some peace.
“I was able to heal, after 48 years of torment,” said Perron, 57.
Lane died in 2007. According to records and testimony, in 1984 he gave Boston church officials evidence Geoghan had abused children at the Boston parish where Lane was a pastor.
Geoghan was immediately removed and later reassigned to another parish. He was convicted of sexual abuse in 2002 and was beaten and strangled in prison the next year.
Garabedian said the fact Lane was a whistleblower in Geoghan’s case was irrelevant to what he said was the overwhelming proof Lane molested his client when he was 10 and again when he was 15.
Garabedian said his client told his brothers about the abuse but Lane remained in his client’s life, even officiating at his wedding. Garabedian said his client, a 56-year-old from southern New Hampshire, decided to file suit after having heart bypass surgery.
“He came forward because he wanted to make peace with his Lord, as he stated,” Garabedian said.