- Clergy sex abuse case advance
- RI-based Catholic order is sued
- Small group has “very high rate” of child sex crimes
- Ten of its clerics are or have been alleged molesters
- Two organizations want Attorney General to launch investigations
Holding signs and childhood photos at a sidewalk news conference, clergy sex abuse victims and supporters will publicly disclose that
---ten clerics in a small, little-known Rhode Island-based Catholic religious order are/were accused child molesters, and
---a judge last week ruled that a lawsuit by a Pawtucket man against the order can proceed.
They will also urge
---RI’s Attorney General, for the first time, to launch a grand jury investigation into the religious order (and renew their call, issued last year, for a grand jury probe of the Providence Catholic diocese) and
---others who saw, suspected or suffered abuse by these religious order clerics to come forward, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect kids and start healing.
Monday, September 17 at 1:00 p.m.
Outside the office of Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, 150 South Main St., Providence
A Rhode Island man who was abused as a child in a boarding school run by the order; and leaders of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the Boston-based BishopAccountability.org
Last week a Massachusetts judge ruled that a child sex abuse lawsuit can proceed. It was brought by a Pawtucket RI man who says he was molested as a child at a Massachusetts boarding school by a Brother Regis, a.k.a. Raymond Richard.
The accused cleric belonged to a small, Pascoag-based order called the New England province of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. In 2001, it had only 89 members; today, it has far fewer. But more than 10 of the Brothers have been hit by child sex abuse lawsuits. Most abuse allegations against the group, advocates say, have largely escaped public scrutiny in Rhode Island, though dozens of victims of the Brothers have come forward in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
At least seven of the ten publicly accused Brothers worked in the order's RI schools. For years, the Brothers have also owned and ran schools in RI, MA, and NH for boys of all ages. Today, the order still operates two schools in New England: Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, now a coed day school with more than 700 students; and Bishop Guertin HS in Nashua, NH.
Abuse allegations have emerged at every school the Brothers have operated.
The Pawtucket victim, James Meunier, was allegedly assaulted by Brother Regis at a Sharon MA boarding school run by the Brothers. Meunier is a retired police officer.
SNAP and BishopAccountability.org want AG Kilmartin to initiate an investigation into the Brothers. They will also renew their plea, issued in March 2011, for Kilmartin to similarly investigate clergy sex crimes and cover-ups in the Providence diocese. Providence church officials have, in court, admitted they’ve received allegations against 125 of its priests, but only 32 of these names have been publicly disclosed.
The alleged molesters in the Brothers of the Sacred Heart include Roger Argencourt, Guy Beaulieu, Peter Claver, Leon Cyr, Leo Labbe, L. Morel, Armand Thibault, Albert LaFlamme, Shawn McEnany and Brother Regis. All but the last three are known to have worked at schools in RI. (More information about the allegations and the clerics' histories can be found in BishopAccountability.org's database of accused priests.)
The order had a "lax and tolerant attitude" toward child molesters, according to numerous victims who filed a class-action lawsuit against the order in NH in 2003. Although the suit was dismissed, the order settled with many of the victims individually.
In 2011, a case against the Brothers alleging abuse by Brother Peter Claver was settled. Claver worked at three RI schools: the now-closed Sacred Heart School in Central Falls, Mt. St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, and the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Harrisville.
At least six of the Brothers’ victims are represented by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian (617 523 6250, Garabedianlaw@msn.com).