Worcester Bishop Named in More Than 30 Lawsuits
By Associated Press, 3/17/2002
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) The bishop of the Diocese of Worcester has
been named in more than 30 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct by
priests previously under his charge in Rhode Island and Connecticut.
Many of the lawsuits in which Bishop Daniel P. Reilly is named
allege that the church responded to complaints by reassigning priests
to other parishes.
None of the suits suggest that Reilly himself was involved in any
sexual misconduct during his tenure as chancellor of the Diocese
of Providence, R.I., his 27 years as bishop of the Norwich, Conn.
diocese, or his roughly seven years in Worcester.
In an interview with the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester, Reilly
said that during his time in Providence and Norwich, he was not
personally involved in the reassignment of priests accused of sexual
He also pointed to a recently announced no-tolerance policy that
will require incidents of suspected child abuse to be reported to
the state, and the suspension of two Worcester Diocese priests from
active assignments as proof the diocese is taking charges of sexual
''I think the way we're handling it is pretty good,'' he said.
''We're following the law, we're dealing with the authorities. We're
trying to help the victims.''
Reilly is named in at least 28 lawsuits all but one of which are
pending alleging abuse by clergy in the Providence diocese. Four
clergy sexual abuse suits were filed in Norwich during Reilly's
tenure there; two of those have since been dismissed.
One lawsuit pending in Connecticut alleges that diocese officials
placed a known sex offender in a parish ministry. The Rev. Richard
T. Buongirno is being sued by a man who alleges that the priest
abused him in 1990 when he was 9 years old. The plaintiff's lawyer
says Buongirno later sexually assaulted two other boys.
Among court documents in the case is a letter from a church official
to Reilly, recommending that Buongirno not be placed in a parish
Reilly said Buongirno was told to undergo treatment after information
surfaced about the 1990 assaults, and he was not reassigned to a
parish until after Reilly left the diocese. Buongirno has since
been removed from the priesthood.
A Norwich Superior Court judge began hearing arguments in the case
Another pending suit against the Norwich diocese was brought by
a New Mexico man who alleges sexual abuse by the Rev. Bernard W.
Bissonnette had been sent for treatment to a Jemez, N.M., facility
operated by a religious order called The Servants of the Paraclete,
which treats priests who are sexually abusive, suffer from addictions
or have other afflictions.
A December 1998 ruling in the New Mexico Court of Appeals found
that the New Mexico man could sue the Norwich diocese. The Norwich
diocese appealed, and the New Mexico Supreme Court is reviewing
Of 28 known lawsuits naming Reilly in Rhode Island, just one was
settled, in 1991. The lawsuits name 13 priests, including the Rev.
Robert Marcantonio, who was later accused of sexually abusing an
altar boy in Iowa.
Marcantonio's accuser in Rhode Island alleges then-Chancellor Reilly
was notified by mail in 1970 that the priest had sexually abused
more than two dozen boys previously.
After Marcantonio went to Iowa to attend college, Chancellor Reilly
wrote to a monsignor in Iowa in 1971 to thank him for hospitality
shown to Marcantonio.
Marcantonio earned master's and doctoral degrees in psychology
from Iowa State College, then returned to Rhode Island in 1975.
Afterward, he was accused of molesting several more boys at a Cumberland,
''They're all linked together, and they cover a whole period of
years, a number of them after I left the diocese,'' Reilly said.
''Others may have gone on while I was there, but I wasn't involved
in that sort of thing.
''When that assignment (Cumberland) came, I think I was out of
the diocese,'' he added. ''So, that's something that I didn't have
any control over.''