Files Add 24 Priests to Accused Sex Abusers List

By Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington
February 1, 2003

A law firm suing the Archdiocese of Boston on behalf of abuse victims said yesterday it has uncovered 24 more sets of church files on previously unidentified priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors.

The discovery, said attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. of Greenberg Traurig, increases to 135 the total number of files on archdiocesan priests living and dead who have been accused of sexual abuse in the last 50 years.

"We should have received these long ago," MacLeish said. "We will be examining them throughout the weekend and filing them with the court as soon as possible."

The 24 sets of files were apparently wrongly included in a separate batch of archdiocesan personnel folders that was supposed to have been limited to priests accused of misconduct with adults.

MacLeish said he could not comment on the new material until the documents are redacted and filed in Suffolk Superior Court.

MacLeish also is scheduled to depose Bernard Cardinal Law on Monday in the Rev. Paul R. Shanley molestation lawsuit, the case that led to the release of the files.

While the Boston archdiocese has been forced to make public its clergy archive, other Bay State dioceses have yet to do so either by court order or voluntarily.

In Worcester tomorrow, a coalition of victims' rights groups will rally outside St. Paul's Cathedral to urge Bishop Daniel P. Reilly to free up his own diocesan clergy files.

David Lewcon of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests said Worcester "has been a dumping area for pedophile priests for many years."

He added: "Bishop Reilly (must) discontinue the concealment of this scandal."

In Springfield, meanwhile, a priest convicted of abusing minors, the Rev. Richard R. Lavigne, has been classified by the state Sex Offender Reigistry Board as a Level 3 offender, according to the Springfield Union-News.

That classification means Lavigne, 61, of Chicopee, is considered "very likely" to reoffend.

Lavigne pleaded guilty in 1992 to multiple counts of abusing children.

The Diocese of Springfield is seeking to have him laicized.

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