Priest pleads not guilty to rape charges

Laurano served Plymouth parish

The Boston Globe/April 27, 2005
By Ralph Ranalli

An 80-year-old suspended priest was arraigned yesterday, accused of raping a boy twice on the same day 14 years ago at a church in Plymouth, officials said.

On April 1, a Plymouth County grand jury indicted the Rev. Anthony J. Laurano, the former pastor of St. Mary's Parish, on two counts of child rape. The indictment charges that Laurano raped the 8-year-old boy the week before his first Holy Communion.

Laurano, who lives in Hull, pleaded not guilty to the charges in Plymouth Superior Court in Brockton and was released on his own recognizance yesterday morning, said Bridget Norton Middleton, a spokeswoman for Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz. Superior Court Judge Suzanne DelVecchio also ordered Laurano to have no contact with children under age 18 and to stay away from the victim until the trial.

Laurano retired as pastor of St. Mary's in 1995. Two years ago, he was one of 48 priests placed on administrative leave or otherwise barred from ministry by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston because they were facing allegations of sexual abuse.

Laurano's lawyer, Santina Gerber, agreed to the conditions of her client's release. She could not be reached for comment on the case.

A Boston lawyer, meanwhile, alleged yesterday that Laurano molested an 11-year-old boy back in 1968 when he was pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Roslindale.

Carmen Durso said his client, now 48 years old, was molested twice by Laurano, once in a church rectory and again when the priest took him to a friend's house in Gloucester. Durso said his client, who served as an altar boy at Sacred Heart, was devastated by the abuse.

''He was pretty young, and this abuse had a profound effect on his life," Durso said of the man, who is one of 25 clients who have outstanding civil cases against the archdiocese alleging clergy sexual abuse. Durso filed the lawsuit in January.

In September 2003, more than 500 victims of abuse reached a historic $85 million agreement with the archdiocese to settle claims that church officials failed to prevent priests under their supervision from molesting children.

Durso said the lengthy period between the alleged abuse by Laurano shows that child abusers do not get less dangerous when they get older.

''This is a lesson that we can't just feel sorry for these older priests who are accused of abuse," Durso said.

''There is only one way to stop these guys, and that is to put them in a controlled environment and keep them there," Durso said.

Laurano's family lived in East Boston and later moved to Hull. According to a published obituary, he was one of seven children.

His mother, Rita, was a founding member of the East Boston chapter of the ladies auxiliary of the Xaverian Missionary Society of Holliston when the order moved to the United States from China in 1945. Laurano was quoted in the obituary as saying that his mother, who died in 1984, was given the honor of receiving Communion from Pope Paul VI in 1969.

Laurano was ordained in 1950, and St. Mary's was his first assignment. He later served at St. Catherine of Genoa Church in Somerville, Sacred Heart in Roslindale, and possibly other parishes before returning to St. Mary's, according to published reports.

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