Molesting charges against priest surface

Weymouth clergyman steps down amid probe

The Patriot Ledger/April 5, 2010

In 2006, the Rev. Charles J. Murphy returned to St. Francis Xavier Church in South Weymouth after a lawsuit alleging he molested a young, deaf girl years earlier had been dismissed.

Now, the elderly parish vicar has voluntarily stepped down from his post amid new accusations that he sexually abused a child nearly 40 years ago while he was assigned to St. Agatha's Church in Milton.

Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the alleged victim - a 53-year-old man who lives on the South Shore - said Sunday that he recently notified lawyers from the Boston archdiocese about the allegations.

"My client is currently deciding whether he should file a civil suit in this matter," Garabedian said. "He should be proud of himself for coming forward. He is concerned for the safety of children."

In an e-mail to The Patriot Ledger, archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said the archdiocese immediately notified civil authorities and began its own investigation upon learning about the allegation about a week ago.

"As a result of the allegation made, Father Murphy has voluntarily agreed to refrain from public ministry while the accusation is being investigated," Donilon wrote.

Garabedian has represented about 250 alleged victims in the archdiocese's clergy sex abuse scandal.

He said his latest client, "wants to make the public aware of safety issues and the need to protect children from being sexually molested."

Garabedian said his client was about 14 when the Rev. Murphy molested him over a period of a year. He said his client was sexually assaulted four times: twice in the men's bathroom at St. Agatha's Church or rectory, once at Paragon Park in Hull and once on a bus during a ski trip.

The Rev. Murphy was 70 when, in August 2004, he was placed on administrative leave following allegations that he had molested a girl during his stint as director of counseling at the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph.

Some former students at the now-closed school had filed lawsuits alleging that the Rev. Murphy, another priest and 13 nuns had physically and sexually abused them or were in positions to stop the abuse between 1946 and 1977.

Garabedian, who represented the plaintiffs, and the Rev. Murphy's lawyer disagreed about the reason the lawsuit was dismissed.

Garabedian said at the time that pre-trial rulings from a Suffolk Superior Court judge regarding the statute of limitations about physical abuse and the inadmissibility of certain witness testimony in one of the cases convinced him that he could no longer go forward with the lawsuits, including that of a former Rockland woman against the Rev. Murphy.

The priest's attorney, Timothy P. O'Neill of Boston, argued that Garabedian withdrew because he knew there was no evidence to support abuse claims.

The archdiocese allowed the Rev. Murphy to return to St. Francis Xavier after deciding that the case against him lacked merit.

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