Bishop Is Indicted in Sex Abuse Case but Won't Be Prosecuted - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 09-27-2004, 08:22 PM Thread Starter
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Bishop Is Indicted in Sex Abuse Case but Won't Be Prosecuted

BOSTON, Sept. 27 - Thomas Dupre, former Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Mass., was charged with two counts of child rape in an indictment unsealed Monday, but only hours later the district attorney said a statute of limitations would keep him from prosecuting.

Bishop Dupre, who became the first prelate to be indicted in the sexual abuse scandal that has roiled the American Catholic Church since 2002, was accused by a Hampden County grand jury of sexually abusing two boys while a parish priest in the towns of Longmeadow and West Springfield in the 1970's.

The district attorney, William M. Bennett, began presenting the case to the grand jury in March, warning publicly that an indictment might not be possible because the statute of limitations was six years at the time of the acts Bishop Dupre was accused of committing.

On Monday, Mr. Bennett decided that the case could not be pursued without additional charges of witness tampering and conspiracy - charges the grand jury declined to bring - that could have stemmed from later contacts that the bishop was said to have had with the two young men.

Bishop Dupre retired on Feb. 11 at age 70, citing health reasons, one day after a local newspaper reported accusations that he had abused the two boys. Soon afterward, he entered a psychiatric hospital known for treating abusive priests.

His lawyer, Michael Jennings, would not say where he is now. The Springfield Diocese issued a statement offering prayers for all involved in the case.

Jeffrey A. Newman, a lawyer for the two accusers, said they were disappointed that Bishop Dupre would not be prosecuted, but felt it would be more emotionally damaging to them to proceed with a case that would not stand up in court.

A civil suit brought by them remains, however.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., another lawyer for the two men, said Father Dupre had abused each boy for five years - one starting in 1976, when he was 12, the other in 1979, when 15. Father Dupre, Mr. MacLeish said, plied them with alcohol and pornography and took them on trips around New York, New England and Canada.

Mr. Bennett plans to turn over evidence to the authorities in Canada, New Hampshire and New York. A spokesman for the New York attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, was not aware of the office's receiving any information. Efforts to reach the authorities for comment in the two other jurisdictions were unsuccessful.

Father Dupre, the accusers' lawyers said, long continued to try to initiate intimate contact with the men, and called them when he was promoted in 1990 and 1995 - first to auxiliary bishop, then to bishop - asking them to keep quiet.

Peter Pollard, the western Massachusetts coordinator for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said Monday that the new developments underscored a need to eliminate any statute of limitations in such cases in Massachusetts. (The current limit is 15 years.)

"There's an enormous amount of disappointment and betrayal with the criminal justice system," Mr. Pollard said.

Ralph C. Martin II, former district attorney in Boston, said prosecutors could not always forecast how evidence presented to a grand jury will stand up when tested by the law.

"He is doing what he is ethically and legally bound to do," Mr. Martin said of Mr. Bennett, "which is not to pursue charges he does not have good faith or legal basis to pursue, regardless of the fact that the grand jury issued an indictment."

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