Bishop Places Rev. Kane on Leave; Priest Subject
of Claim of Sex Abuse
Worcester Telegram & Gazette - April 24, 1993
by George B. Griffin; Telegram & Gazette Staff
The Rev. Thomas A. Kane, associate pastor of Sacred Heart Church
in Gardner, has been placed on indefinite leave in the wake of allegations
that he sexually assaulted a 9-year-old boy.
The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed Thursday in Suffolk
Superior Court in Boston on behalf of Mark D. Barry, 34, of Uxbridge.
The suit alleges that Kane assaulted Barry off and on for 11 years,
beginning in 1968 when Barry was a member of St. Mary's Catholic
Church in Uxbridge.
Barry said in an interview that he hoped one day to be able to
forgive Kane. That forgiveness, he said, would begin to heal his
"I have to heal," Barry said. "That's God's will.
I have to put this behind me if it takes a jury trial three years
Barry alleges he was forced by Kane to perform a number of sexual
acts at St. Mary's Church and the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville,
a psychological treatment center for the religious that Kane co-founded
Kane was not at Sacred Heart Church or its rectory yesterday and
did not return phone calls to the Telegram & Gazette.
Bishop Timothy J. Harrington said in a written statement that the
allegations "are a cause of great sadness to me and the people
of this diocese."
"When the allegations of Mark Barry against Father Thomas
Kane were brought to the attention of diocesan officials, that very
afternoon those officials and another member of my staff met with
Father Kane," Harrington said. "Father Kane categorically
and emphatically denied all the charges.
"Now that those allegations are the subject of public judicial
investigation, Father Kane will be granted administrative leave
until the matter is resolved."
Barry said the lawsuit was his way of regaining a measure of control
over his life.
He said the childhood sexual abuse had left him unable to find
a way out of his situation. By the time he was a teen-ager, he said,
he was so confused and conditioned to the abuse that he could not
stop it. He said he was already on his way to becoming an alcoholic
and a drug abuser and was developing the out-of-control behavior
that eventually would land him in jail.
Now, after months of psychotherapy and sobriety, he said he believes
he is on his way to turning things around.
"I am taking my life back," he said. "I've carried
this secret for years. But secrets kill. My lawsuit is not an accusation.
It's my life."
Barry was an altar boy at St. Mary's and attended the church's
school. The abuse began, Barry said, at a time when Kane visited
the church regularly to assist with a variety of its functions.
Barry said Kane ingratiated himself to his family, earned the trust
of his parents and eventually got their permission to take him on
outings, some of which lasted the weekend.
"It started with us taking day trips," he said. "He'd
take me to lunch, or to ball games."
Barry said that in the summer of 1968, Kane took him to a cottage
in Upton, where he was sexually abused. That incident was the first
of dozens of sexual encounters that occurred at the House of Affirmation,
at the church and elsewhere, he said. He said Kane plied him with
liquor and gave him expensive gifts and money.
As he grew older, he said, the abuse became more bizarre and the
gifts and money larger. Barry said he was was taken to rural retreats,
where he was held out by Kane for sex with other priests.
Barry said that Kane also enjoyed voyeurism and offered Barry money
to engage in sex with other men while Kane watched, and sometimes
As time wore on, Barry said, he felt himself more and more trapped
in the relationship.
"At some point, I guess, I felt I owed him," Barry said.
"I was eventually living in a house he owned in Vermont and
he co-signed for a car I had."
Kane, according to the Manchester, Vt., town clerk, sold a house
there in January 1991.
LEADER TO FELON
Barry said he became so out of control as a teen-ager that he went
from being class president to being a felon. He served a year in
prison for illegal possession of a handgun, and has been arrested
on other charges, including larceny by check and breaking and entering.
He was charged with assault with intent to rape, but that charge
was dropped when a Worcester County grand jury found no evidence
to support an indictment.
Barry said his marriage deteriorated and eventually ended in divorce;
his drinking and drug use escalated.
"My son's in school now," he said. "And when I look
at him and I think of this stuff, I don't know what direction my
life might have taken. I had dreams of being an attorney, of doing
something. Kane stopped my life at 10 years old. I'm 34 years old
now and don't know how long it's going to take me to heal.
"I don't have kid memories. I don't have any boy-meets-girl
puppy love kind of memories. My sexual development came at the hands
Barry said the abuse has left him struggling with depression and
a sense of isolation. He said he believes that eventually, he will
be able to overcome these problems.
"Most important of all, I want people to know that whatever
you're holding inside, whatever secret or fear, if you take the
opportunity to take the situation you found unbearable and unmanageable
and tell it to one other person you can trust, then it becomes bearable,"
he said. "The Catholic Church is an institution, it's a man-made
authority. There's one ultimate authority that we have to remember
- that's God. He saved my life. My faith is in God. I have no faith
in the Catholic Church."
Copyright (c) 1993 Worcester Telegram & Gazette Corp.