Lawsuit names former Catholic school superintendent

Associated Press/January 5, 2005

Boston -- Ten more clergy sex abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Boston Archdiocese, including one that accuses the archdiocese's former school superintendent of molesting a 15-year-old boy in the 1970s.

Eugene Sullivan, who is now pastor of St. Francis Xavier church in Weymouth, is accused in the suit of molesting a boy in his car in 1977.

Mark Martin, now 42, claims Sullivan fondled him as they rode in his car to Camp Fatima, a Catholic summer camp for children in New Hampshire.

Sullivan said he had not seen the lawsuit and had no immediate comment.

"I know nothing about that,'' Sullivan said when reached by phone at the church Wednesday. He told The Associated Press he couldn't remember Martin, saying "This is throwing me for a loop.''

Sullivan was superintendent of schools for the archdiocese and assistant director for education in 1977, when Martin claims the abuse took place. The exact time frame he served as superintendent couldn't immediately been determined.

Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Under archdiocesan rules, a priest is put on administrative leave when a credible accusation of abuse is raised. Lynch said the archdiocese had just heard about the lawsuit and she did not know yet what action the archdiocese would take.

The lawsuit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, is one of 10 new clergy sex abuse claims filed over the last week. More than 500 lawsuits were settled by the Boston Archdiocese for $85 million in 2003.

In a telephone interview Wednesday, Martin said another priest arranged for Sullivan, then superintendent of schools for the Boston Archdiocese, to give him a ride to Camp Fatima during the summer of 1977, just before he was to begin classes at Catholic Memorial High School in Boston.

"I knew Father Sullivan was a bigshot,'' Martin said. "My mother said to me, 'Be on your best behavior. He is the head of all Catholic schools.'''

Martin said Sullivan fondled him during the drive to the camp, located in Gilmanton in southern New Hampshire.

Martin, a construction worker, is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, and financial expenses for therapeutic care and lost earnings capacity.

In his lawsuit, Martin claims he was also molested by the Rev. Edward Kelley and the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who were then priests assigned to St. Columbkille church in Brighton.

A number for Kelley could not be located and he was not listed in a current directory of archdiocese employees.

Martin's suit also names several church supervisors as defendants, saying they were negligent in not removing the priests.

Thomas Hannigan, an attorney for the archdiocese, did not immediately return a call seeking comment on the suits Wednesday.

The 10 new lawsuits, filed over the past week by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, are among at least 150 suits filed since the archdiocese settled more than 500 cases in September 2003.

The 10 latest lawsuits accused various priests of sexually abusing children, ranging in age from 11 to 15, between 1969 and 1978.

"One has to wonder how wide and deep the problem with pedophilia is within the Archdiocese of Boston,'' Garabedian said.

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