The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Tuesday, May 25, 2010
SNAP complains that former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre has been allowed to move to Catholic retirement home
Statement by Barbara Blaine SNAP President 312 399 4747
(A Springfield MA attorney today disclosed that Bishop Thomas Dupre was recently deposed in a civil child sex abuse lawsuit about alleged crimes he committed against kids and repeatedly invoked his right to ignore questions that might incriminate himself.)
There’s pretty much one reason that accused criminals plead the Fifth – because they want to protect themselves and their secrets. That’s what Bishop Dupre is doing. We’re grateful that anyone who might doubt that Bishop Dupre molested children now has less reason to doubt. We’re glad any time there’s more clarity about clergy sex abuse allegations.
This is one of only a tiny handful of times in US history that an accused child-molesting bishop has pled the Fifth in a deposition. (Others include Bishop Anthony O’Connell of MO, TN & FL and Bishop Lawrence Soens of IA.)
At the same time, we’re worried because Dupre is now living where he gets little or no supervision, in a neighborhood where few parents likely know that he’s a credibly accused child molester. We believe kids are safest when sex offenders are jailed. The second best option is housing such offenders in remote, secure, independent and professionally-run treatment centers. Dupre is in neither. He’s in a facility designed for the health and comfort of elderly people, not for keeping child molesters away from kids.
Finally, we hope that the Massachusetts judge will unseal Dupre’s deposition. Several years ago, referring to the church’s ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis, Pope Benedict said “It is important to establish the truth of what happened.” We agree. Only one person is served by keeping Dupre’s deposition sealed: Dupre himself. Kids, victims, Catholics and citizens deserve to know the truth, and unsealing Dupre’s deposition helps uncover the truth.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world's oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We've been around for 22 years and have more than 9,000 members across the globe. Despite the word "priest" in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contacts: David Clohessy (314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747), Mark Serrano (703-727-4940), Peter Isely (414-429-7259)
Survivors of those Abused by Priests complains that former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre has been allowed to move to Catholic retirement home
SPRINGFIELD – The elusive Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, former top prelate for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, has backed his former flock into a purgatory of sorts.
A victims advocacy group on Tuesday announced that Dupre has taken up residence at a Catholic retirement home in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.
Members of Survivors of those Abused by Priests denounced the move as tantamount to letting a “serial predator” move about unfettered.
“We’re concerned and we’d like him to be returned to a more secure facility,” said member William Nash, a member of SNAP who appears as spokesman for the group at its frequent press conferences in front of the chancery on Elliot Street.
“First, I’d like to know what U.S. law there is that allows the Catholic church to imprison people,” who haven’t been charged with a crime, said diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont.
Secondly, Dupont said, ancient laws established by the Vatican mandate that no one but the Pope has authority to discipline a Bishop, and those proceedings are secret.
Dupre abruptly retired and essentially disappeared after being confronted with molestation accusations in 2004. He was indicted on rape charges the same year by a Hampden County grand jury, but ducked prosecution as the abuse occurred many years earlier and the statute of limitations had run out.
Dupre fled after allegations surfaced that he had abused two young boys when he was a parish priest in Holyoke in the 1970s. He has since reached out-of-court settlements with both men.
The prelate continued to duck the public ramifications of the scandal by retreating to a treatment center for wayward priests in Silver Spring, Md., for more than three years.
The Most Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell has said Dupre is “fully retired” and no longer in public ministry. However, it is unclear whether that transition was voluntary.
A call to the retirement home was not returned. Dupre’s lawyer, Michael O. Jennings, declined comment.
Dupre also has rebuffed repeated requests to make a public statement at the advice of his lawyer, rather than leave his former diocese to manage the fallout.
He recently was subject to a videotaped deposition in connection with a civil lawsuit questioning his supervision over other abusive priests. Greenfield lawyer John J. Stobierski, who represents the plaintiffs, said Dupre invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself throughout the inquiry.
Jennings has filed a motion in court to block any public release of the videotaped interview. That motion is pending.
Dupont said he wishes the diocese did not have a kind of default ownership of the Dupre scandal given canon law and the prelate’s silence. The spokesman said the enduring attention paid to Dupre’s departure takes away from the local church’s efforts to repair and fend off abuse.
“Revisiting this painful chapter in our history, may be important to some, but in a practical sense does little to prevent future abuse, which is addressed by the efforts we have long ago undertaken and for which we remain firmly committed,” Dupont said.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests