A man’s claim that he was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic bishop has been settled

The lawsuit of a former altar boy who claimed he was raped as a child by a late Massachusetts Roman Catholic bishop in the 1960s has been settled, the sides announced Friday.

The plaintiff identified himself in the court records as the alleged John Doe The lawsuit was filed in February 2021 that not only was he abused by former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon and two other ministers, but that the church operated a cover-up for years to protect the bishop’s reputation and legacy.

The Men’s suit He also said that diocesan officials were still denying these allegations as late as 2019, after allegations of abuse against Weldon proved credible.

The current bishop of the diocese apologized in a statement announcing the agreement.

“Mr. Doe’s allegations have been found to be credible, therefore any public statement inconsistent made on behalf of the diocese in May or June 2019 is withdrawn,” Bishop William Byrne said. “We apologize to Mr. Doe for any damaging statements We regret that diocesan interaction and civil litigation, which are often the final stop in trying to resolve these cases, can leave survivors feeling victimized again.”

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The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

The alleged abuse occurred when the plaintiff, aged 9 to 11, was an altar boy at St. Anne Parish in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Weldon was bishop from 1950 to 1977 and died in 1982.

Even before the lawsuit was filed, a retired Supreme Court Justice commissioned by the diocese made this determination Abuse allegations regarding Weldon “Clearly credible” and that there was “reluctance to eagerly pursue an assessment of the allegations against[Weldon]because of his prominent position and revered legacy in the religious community.”

“The fact that Mr. Doe was compelled to pursue legal action in light of the report of retired Judge Peter A. Velis confirms that, despite protestations to the contrary, the church continues to not accept responsibility for the atrocities committed,” said Nancy Frankel, Pelletier, a Plaintiff’s attorney, in a statement.

Bishop Byrne commended the plaintiff for his actions and said the church has learned to better respond to allegations of abuse. Hiding someone or discouraging them from reporting abuse will not be tolerated, he said.

“Mr. Doe hopes that Bishop Byrne’s testimony will be heeded and that no other survivor will be victimized again for speaking his truth,” Pelletier said.

The diocese fought to have the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of charity immunity and the doctrine of church autonomy derived from the First Amendment, even taking its case to the state’s highest court. However, the Supreme Court has decided in favor of the plaintiff last July.

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Brian Ashcraft

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