Seventy abuse cases filed vs. church

Boston Herald/January 30, 2003
By Robin Washington and Tom Mashberg

A lawyer who has represented more than 100 alleged clergy sexual abuse victims filed 70 new cases against the Archdiocese of Boston yesterday, including complaints involving five priests not previously accused who remain in good standing in the church.

The suits filed by attorney Mitchell Garabedian cover alleged incidents dating from 1941 through the 1980s.

"Of the 70 complaints, 23 are rapes. Eleven of the 23 are multiple rapes. Three of those involve (victims) molested by two priests," said Garabedian, who said he regretted having to describe the incidents in graphic terms.

One plaintiff allegedly molested by two priests is a Norfolk woman who was fondled by the Rev. John H. Flynn at Wellesley's St. Paul Parish in 1978 when she was 6 and raped by the Rev. Roger Jacques four years later, according to her suit.

The abuse left her suffering from anorexia, bulimia and depression, along with other ills, the suit states.

Jacques, who in December was one of 58 clerics to sign a letter urging Cardinal Bernard Law to resign, has been on leave from St. Joseph's Parish in Waltham since October and could not be reached, a parish aide said.

Flynn, now retired, vehemently denied the accusation.

"It's a bunch of lies, what they're putting in the papers," he said from his residence at the Regina Cleri priest retirement home.

"I deny every damn thing. I'm a priest in good standing in the archdiocese, and to hell with all of you." He then hung up.

The other three active priests are the Revs. Edward M. Keohan of Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere, Edward F. Sherry of the Church of the Nativity in Merrimac, and Edmund P. Charest, who is assigned to the clergy personnel office.

Charest, Sherry and Keohan did not respond to messages, though Keohan has previously spoken out about the abuse crisis, telling the Herald a year ago, "It's a tough time, but our church will survive this."

Keohan was transferred to Revere after Christmas when his longtime parish, St. Mary's in Salem, was closed.

Charest, 72, of the Back Bay was in the news in 1995 when a judge ordered him to leave his Marlborough Street condo and keep 100 feet away from a 33-year-old neighbor, Diane Casey.

Casey accused him of spying on her and harassing her. Charest accused Casey of lying.

Bishop Richard G. Lennon, the apostolic administrator temporarily leading the archdiocese, responded to the new suits somberly. "I was very disappointed," he said.

His spokesman, the Rev. Christopher R. Coyne, said the church is just at the beginning of its investigative process on the newly accused priests.

"At this point we have taken no administrative action," he said. "We need to talk to the priests and properly investigate the allegations."

Eight of the 12 priests named for the first time yesterday are deceased, including the Rev. Charles M. Loeffler of Mattapan, who died in 1992 at age 80. His accuser is a 71-year-old Saugus woman who was allegedly abused in 1941.

Another is the late Rev. Paul P. Rynne, a chief of the Archdiocesan Commission on Human Rights in the 1960s who frequently marched for civil rights around the nation.

The suits include multiple new allegations against previously accused priests, including the Revs. George Rosenkranz, Robert Towner, Bernard Lane, Paul Mahan, Ronald Paquin, Paul Shanley and defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, who was the subject of previous suits filed by Garabedian on behalf of 86 plaintiffs who reached a $10 million settlement with the church last year.

John King, an alleged Paquin victim, said payments were not the plaintiffs' main goal.

"It's not about the money," he said. "It's about stopping these disgusting things from happening."

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