Ruling Goes Against Diocese on Questioning of Bishop
TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
April 1, 2003
WORCESTER- A Superior Court judge yesterday ruled against attempts
by the Diocese of Worcester to limit questioning of Bishop Daniel
P. Reilly in a coming deposition and to prevent the release of transcripts
to the media. The deposition is for a lawsuit that accuses Auxiliary
Bishop George E. Rueger of child rape.
Judge Mary Lou Rup's action echoed similar rulings by Suffolk Superior
Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney, who has ordered the unsealing
of tens of thousands of Boston Archdiocese documents and the deposition
of former Cardinal Bernard F. Law.
Daniel J. Shea of Houston, lawyer for plaintiff Sime J. Braio of
Shrewsbury, said thorough questioning of Bishop Reilly was necessary
because he has been closely involved with some cases of alleged
priestly sexual abusers.
Diocese lawyer James G. Reardon argued, however, that Bishop Reilly,
who became bishop of Worcester in December 1994, should not be questioned
about that case, which allegedly happened in the early 1960s.
Judge Rup said Bishop Reilly has institutional knowledge that makes
it legitimate to question him. She said she would not allow discovery
in the case to be delayed until the court rules on a diocesan motion
to dismiss the lawsuit.
The depositions had been scheduled for yesterday but were postponed.
Mr. Reardon had hoped to prevent Mr. Shea from asking Bishop Reilly
about the House of Affirmation, a Whitinsville treatment center
for priests with psychological problems, including sexual problems.
The House of Affirmation opened in 1970 and closed in 1989.
"Discovery has to have some relevance,' Mr. Reardon said.
Judge Rup said she was skeptical that questions about the House
of Affirmation would be relevant. But she said if either bishop
admitted to any involvement with it, the questioning would be allowed.
Bishop Reilly once served on its board of directors.
Mr. Reardon noted that Mr. Braio's complaint contains no allegations
about the House of Affirmation. He said that Mr. Shea wanted to
question Bishop Reilly to find names of other alleged abuse victims.
Mr. Shea said the House of Affirmation is relevant to the lawsuit
because in 1995 Bishop Reilly signed off on a $42,500 settlement
in a case where Rev. Thomas A. Kane, who ran the House of Affirmation,
was accused of sexually abusing Mark Barry of Uxbridge beginning
at age 9. The settlement agreement had been attached to another
priest sexual abuse lawsuit filing and was uncovered last year.
The settlement named three priests who had not been named in the
lawsuit - Rev. Thomas Teczar, Rev. Robert Shauris and Monsignor
"What the Barry settlement suggests is there is a ring of
priests that have been operating in the diocese,' Mr. Shea said.
"Kane was on the payroll over 10 years after being administratively
separated from the diocese.'
The diocese has denied that any such priest sex ring existed, and
Bishop Reilly has said he signed the agreement "in good faith
as prepared and approved by the legal counsels representing all
the parties and agreed upon by Mr. Barry at the time.'
Bishop Reilly last year placed seven priests accused of sexual
abuse on administrative leave.
But much of the evidence of his knowledge of sexual abuse allegations
against his priests dates to his time in the administration of the
Providence Diocese in the 1960s and 1970s and his time as bishop
in Norwich, Conn., from 1975 to 1994.
Since coming to Worcester, Bishop Reilly signed a $300,000 lawsuit
settlement with a Spencer man who accused Rev. Peter Inzerillo and
one other priest of sexual abuse. In 2000, Bishop Reilly reassigned
Rev. Inzerillo, who had been on administrative leave, to St. Leo
Church and St. Leo Elementary School in Leominster. Last year, the
bishop again placed Rev. Inzerillo on leave.
Mr. Braio's lawsuit alleges that Bishop Rueger, then a parish priest,
began sexually molesting him in the early 1960s when he was 13.
The suit alleges that the abuse resulted in behavior that landed
Braio, now 52, in the former Lyman School for Boys in Westboro.
Richard Nangle can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.