Man Who Accused Rueger of Molestation Now 'At Peace'

By Bronislaus B. Kush
Telegram & Gazette
July 18, 2006

Worcester — Sime M. Braio loved to cook sausages, meatballs and other Italian dishes and, if circumstances had been different, he might have been a chef or manager at a restaurant on Shrewsbury Street, instead of finding himself at the heart of the local clergy sexual abuse scandal.

But, according to family members, Mr. Braio was shuttled at an early age from foster home to foster home until his behavioral problems grew to the point where he was committed to the former state Lyman School for Boys in Westboro.

"Things might have been so, so different," said Mr. Braio's sister, Brenda Gour. "At least he's at peace now."

Mr. Braio, who roiled the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester in 2002 with charges that he had been sexually abused by Auxiliary Bishop George E. Rueger, was buried yesterday afternoon at Hope Cemetery after a funeral Mass at St. John's Church on Temple Street.

"What we celebrate today (Monday) is that Sime is now in the loving arms of God," said the Rev. John F. Madden, St. John's pastor. "He finally has eternal peace."

A handful of mourners attended Mr. Braio's services.

There was no mention, either at the church or at graveside, of the controversy brought about by Mr. Braio's allegations of abuse.

In July 2002, Mr. Braio filed a civil suit alleging that the molestation by Bishop Rueger began when he was 13.

Depositions were taken but the matter never went to trial and Mr. Braio put a halt to the judicial proceedings 16 months later, much to the surprise of abuse advocates and his lawyer, Daniel J. Shea.

Mrs. Gour, who lives in Leominster, said she didn't hear about the alleged abuse until learning about the matter from a friend, who had read about the charges in the newspaper.

Family members said the 56-year-old Mr. Sime, who was found dead July 7 in an apartment he rented on East Central Street, drifted about and lived in several communities, including Shrewsbury and Leicester.

Mrs. Gour said she rarely saw her brother.

"We were separated at very young ages and he only visited me from time to time," she said.

"After time, we kind of lost track of him," said Mrs. Gour's husband, John Gour.

Mr. Braio was born in May 1950 in Worcester to James V. and Barbara Braio.

The senior Mr. Braio drove tractor-trailers and enjoyed cooking, a hobby his son picked up.

Mrs. Gour said she knew little of Mr. Braio's life, given his estrangement from the family.

"I do remember that he had very curly hair and he had a big heart," she said.

Family members said Mr. Braio never held a steady job. He had several maladies that afflicted him, including severe heart problems.

A cause of death has yet to be established.

At yesterday's Mass, Rev. Madden told mourners that, according to the Scriptures, death is like a thief who visits in the night.

He added that one only had to read the front page of the morning's Telegram & Gazette, which featured stories on the drownings of a father and son in Auburn, the body of a man found after a Worcester fire, the escalating violence in the Middle East, and the tunnel collapse in Boston, to realize that suffering is prevalent.

"Our grief is like a veil that covers us," he said.

Rev. Madden said that some believe death and suffering result because "life stinks" and "God doesn't seem to care," or a combination of both.

He added, however, that believers know otherwise and that Mr. Braio's fortunes have changed because he is now with God.

At the end of the Mass, Mr. Shea offered a short eulogy, saying Mr. Braio had a big heart.

Mr. Shea, who kissed the casket before it was rolled out of the historic church, said he always felt better after visiting Mr. Braio.

The funeral arrangements were provided by Mr. Shea and Peter A. Stefan, owner of Graham, Putnam & Mahoney Funeral Parlors.

"We just wanted to make sure Mr. Braio received the proper send-off," Mr. Stefan said.


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