Weymouth priest cleared of sexual abuse allegation

The Associated Press/September 30, 2010

Braintree - A local priest has been cleared of sexual abuse allegations for a second time, and returned to the ministry.

The Rev. Charles J. Murphy, whose last assignment was at St. Francis Xavier Church in Weymouth, had been accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy while Murphy was assigned to St. Agatha's Church in Milton during the early 1970s.

In April, the Rev. Murphy voluntarily stepped down from public ministry during the investigation.

The decision to clear him of the accusations was made by the Archdiocesan Review Board, an interfaith advisory board that includes victims of clergy sex abuse, parents and a judge. It makes recommendations to Cardinal Sean O'Malley.

The cardinal met with the Rev. Murphy late Tuesday to tell him that he was being restored to senior priest status.

"I look forward to discussing with Father Murphy how he can continue to serve God and the people of the Archdiocese," Cardinal O'Malley said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The Rev. Murphy, 77, has been a priest for 50 years.

The latest charges were made by a 53-year-old South Shore man who said Murphy molested him four times when the accuser was about 14 years old: twice in the men's bathroom at St. Agatha's, once at Paragon Park in Hull and another time on a bus during a ski trip.

The attorney for the man, Mitchell Garabedian of Boston, said his client was disappointed with the decision.

He called the review board a "kangaroo court" that's biased in favor of the archdiocese. Garabedian said his client was interviewed by archdiocesan investigators but never questioned by the board.

Garabedian was also the lawyer for a former Rockland woman who alleged that Murphy molested her when she was a girl and the priest was director of counseling at the Boston School for the Deaf in Randolph. Those allegations were part of a lawsuit filed in 2004 by 18 former students who said that Murphy, another priest and 13 nuns had physically and sexually abused them or were in positions to stop the abuse but didn't, between 1946 and 1977. The school, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, closed and was sold in 1998 to the Boston Higashi School for autistic children.

The lawsuit against all 15 clergy members at the school for the deaf was withdrawn in 2006 and the Rev. Murphy returned to St. Francis Xavier to a warm reception from parishioners. He left again in April after the accusations stemming from his time at St. Agatha's surfaced.

No lawsuit has been filed in connection with those allegations.

Garabedian has represented about 250 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston. He said the Boston School for the Deaf lawsuit fell apart because of a legal technicality. Lawyers for the accused clergy members portrayed Garabedian's clients as opportunists trying to cash in on publicity surrounding the $85 million paid in 2003 by the archdiocese to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

The Rev. Murphy is a Cambridge native and was ordained in 1960. He is hearing-impaired and was assigned to the school for the deaf in Randolph for nearly 20 years. Before his suspension in 2004, he was apostolate for the deaf at St. Francis Xavier in Weymouth and a part-time chaplain at the Norfolk County jail.

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