Two clergy sex abuse victims were awarded judgments totaling $3 million today, after a former priest with ties to the Boston area failed to appear in court or respond to a lawsuit filed against him and a religious order known as the Franciscan friars.
Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders assessed damages of $2 million for one of the victims and $1 million for the other, saying, "No amount of money will ever fully compensate either plaintiff for their suffering."
Carmen Durso, the attorney representing the victims, said he believes they are unlikely to collect the award because the former priest, John Dority, is 70 years old and was released from a Rhode Island prison in 2007 after serving two years for child molestation.
"He never answered the complaint and didn't show up in court," Durso said.
But David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the award carries crucial symbolic value because it legitimizes the claims of the victims and underscores the suffering they have endured.
"What makes the dollar figure significant is that it validates just how devastating child sex abuse is," Clohessy said. "It's not whether a nickel will go from one person's pocket to another, it's that these brave victims have been validated in a very public and powerful way that can never be taken away from them."
Dority's name does not appear on a list of 134 priests who were accused of abusing children in the Boston Archdiocese that was released in August by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley. The Cardinal said he omitted the names of priests from religious orders and those from other dioceses "because the Boston Archdiocese does not determine the outcome in such cases; that is the responsibility of the priest's order or diocese."
Dority lives in Coventry, Conn., and is a registered sex offender. He did not return a call today from the Globe. But earlier this year he told an Associated Press reporter that he did not respond to the lawsuit because he could not afford an attorney, and admitted molesting the two victims.
"What I did was completely wrong,'' Dority said in a telephone interview. "I admit that. I'm very sorry for the trouble I caused, the harm I caused.''
The lawsuit against the remaining defendant, the religious order formally called the Order of Friars Minor Province of the Most Holy Name, which is based in New York, is still pending.
Neither the attorney representing the order, nor Jocelyn Thomas, a spokeswoman for the order, returned calls from the Globe.
Each of the victims, who have withheld their identities, were molested over a period of several years during the late 1960s and early 1970s, when they were 10 years old and 13 years old and members of the Holy Name parish, in West Roxbury.
Durso said that, during the years when Dority's victims were molested, he spent much of his time working as a missionary in Brazil. But on vacations he would return to visit family members and work as a fill-in priest at the Holy Name church.
"That's when he would have contact with these kids," he said, speaking of the two victims. "He was someone who came home from the mission and he was a big deal because he was a priest."