Thursday, May 23, 2002 E-mail This Article
N.H. church leaders to be deposed
By BRAD MORIN
Democrat Staff Writer
DOVER — New Hampshire’s Catholic church leaders may soon face questioning about retired priest Joseph T. Maguire and other clergy who allegedly molested children.
Mark Abramson, a Manchester attorney who represents 24 victims, said his lawsuits are on track for a trial in June 2003. But he is currently trying to arrange for the depositions of Bishop John McCormack, Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian and other church officials.
Abramson said this morning that he has already sent letters to the diocese requesting the depositions. If the church does not object in court, they could take place by September or October, he said.
"We have agreed to discuss this over the next 60 days," Abramson said.
McCormack is already facing depositions resulting from the sexual abuse scandal in Massachusetts. Before becoming the bishop of Manchester, McCormack was the personnel director for the Archdiocese of Boston.
In New Hampshire, the 24 lawsuits filed by Abramson’s clients accuse the Diocese of Manchester of negligence for failing to protect the alleged victims from abuse. Abramson said he intends to file additional lawsuits soon.
But Abramson believes one of his client’s claims has already been proven publicly with last week’s release of a Dover police report detailing the 1986 investigation of Maguire, who served at St. Joseph’s Church on Central Avenue from 1974 to 1981.
The report shows that church officials had received a complaint against Maguire years before Abramson’s client was molested at St. Joseph’s during the late 1970s.
"This is no better than the Shanley case, so far as I’m concerned," Abramson said, referring to one of the more notorious cases in the Archdiocese of Boston.
"They were aware that he was a pedophile and they passed him along," he said.
Dover police received an anonymous complaint against Maguire in 1986 and launched an investigation. Maguire confessed to police that he had molested a boy on one of his earlier assignments in Hudson, and the Diocese of Manchester had investigated the case. He was allowed to continue serving at St. Joseph’s and Maguire confessed to molesting three more boys there.
Maguire was never prosecuted because the statute of limitations had run out.
When the 1986 police investigation was released to the public Friday, Bishop McCormack issued a statement that disavowed the former policy of allowing a suspected priest to remain in service. In the statement, McCormack said the diocese had received its first allegations against Maguire in 1975 in a report from Hudson police. Maguire was already at St. Joseph’s but was allowed to continue in his duties with psychiatric treatment.
"It proves the case completely and substantiates what the survivors have said," Abramson said.
Abramson said he may also want to question retired-Bishop Odore Gendron. Gendron handled the sexual abuse complaints against Maguire in both Hudson and Dover and police spoke with Gendron during the 1986 investigation.
"In this particular case, he’s become very relevant. He’s an integral part of the investigation," Abramson said.
Another man who was allegedly molested by Maguire at St. Joseph’s is also planning a lawsuit, according to Dover attorney, Christine Rockefeller of Dover.
Democrat Staff Writer Brad Morin can be reached at 742-4455, Ext. 5311 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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