Newly installed Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Paul Russell facing a lawsuit alleging sexual assault in Massachusetts

(For Immediate Release August 1, 2022) 

A former member of Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn, Massachusetts, has filed a civil lawsuit against Bishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit and a former Vatican Diplomat.

Carmen L. Durso, Esq., of Boston filed the complaint for client John Doe No. 12 in Suffolk County Superior Court, alleging that when Mr. Doe was 12 years old in 1989-1990, he was sexually assaulted, abused, and raped by Bishop Russell, then a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. According to the lawsuit, the cleric sexually attacked and raped the child approximately 25 times. The complaint further alleges that the assaults, abuses, and rapes occurred because of the negligent supervision of the clergyman by his supervisor at the parish. Fr. Ronald J. Gariboldi. The docket number for this case is 2284CV01745, and the filing was provided to SNAP by Mr. Durso.

Cardinal Bernard Law ordained Bishop Russell as a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston on June 20, 1987, when the Cardinal was still an archbishop. The new clergyman was assigned to Sacred Heart Parish shortly thereafter. Cardinal Law invited then Fr. Russell to become his priest-secretary shortly after Fr. Russell started a new post at St. Eulalia Parish in Winchester, Massachusetts, in 1992. The Cardinal encouraged Fr. Russell to join the Vatican Diplomatic Service in 1993.

We hope that the filing of this complaint will help provide hope and healing to this victim and that it will also inspire others who have been hurt to come forward and make a report.

Given Bishop Russell’s high position in the Catholic Church – and especially given the fact that he had been tapped by disgraced Cardinal Law to be a Vatican Diplomat– we believe true transparency and accountability will only come when the files on the clergyman held by the Church are publicly disclosed.

In the meantime, it is disturbing that Bishop Russell has yet to be suspended from his position despite the serious accusations against him. At a bare minimum, the Bishop should be removed from his job and subjected to a canonical investigation while awaiting a jury trial in the civil case. To do anything less flies in the face of the Church’s promises of “zero tolerance” for abuse.

Nancy Crabbs, Michigan SNAP Leader, stated, 'People who are practicing Catholics can help the church end abuse by watching the priests and anyone responsible for children.' 

CONTACT: Nadja Tirrell, SNAP Leader Michigan, (947-247-0143 [email protected]),Nancy Crabbs (616-514-7973 [email protected]) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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