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Alleged victim supports defrocking of Massachusetts Bishop

By BILL ZAJAC - Springfield, MA Republican
Tuesday, May 24, 2005

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SPRINGFIELD - One of Bishop Thomas L. Dupre's two alleged sexual abuse victims is supporting a call for the Vatican to defrock Dupre, to announce the results of its investigation of Dupre and to reveal the bishop's whereabouts.

Tuan Tran, a Vietnamese refugee who said Dupre began abusing him as a pre-teen, expressed support for the plan by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests to hold a press conference today in Springfield calling for the Vatican to act on 15-month- old allegations against Dupre, who served in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield until his resignation in February 2004.

The 11 a.m. press conference in front of the Springfield Diocese's Chancellery is being held on the eve of CBS's 60 Minutes Wednesday's planned broadcast of a story about the 33-year-old unsolved murder of Springfield altar boy Daniel Croteau, defrocked priest Richard R. Lavigne - the only publicly identified suspect - and Dupre.

David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said his organization's main concern is that children be protected from someone accused of sexual molestation.

Dupre's lawyer, Michael O. Jennings, and the diocese refused comment.

Neither Tran nor Dupre's other accuser, Thomas Deshaies, a Holyoke native, plan to be at the press conference. Deshaies' lawyer said they advised him against giving interviews before the suit the two men have filed against Dupre goes to court.

The Republican has a policy of not identifying alleged sexual abuse victims who want to remain anonymous, but the men, who filed the suit in their names without using pseudonyms, no longer want to remain anonymous.

Tran, who said he couldn't attend the press conference because he resides in California, said he supports the efforts of the survivors' group. "I wish the church dealt with this more honestly," Tran said. "They seemed to have ignored the whole thing."

Tran, now 42, said he has never been notified by the church about the status of the Vatican investigation which he and Deshaies participated in more than a year ago.

"I don't know if any conclusion was reached," Tran said.

Tran described a complex relationship with Dupre that spanned several decades and included a mutual affection and concern long after the alleged abuse ended when Tran began dating in high school.

Even now, Tran said he has mixed feelings about Dupre.

Although Tran cooperated with the criminal investigation of Dupre, he said he wasn't disappointed Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett invoked the statute of limitations as the reason not to pursue the case after a grand jury indicted Dupre on two counts of child rape.

"I didn't want to see him go to jail," said Tran.

Tran, who is gay, said he initiated legal action against Dupre days before the bishop resigned because he was furious Dupre campaigned against same-sex marriages.

"He knew I was gay. He didn't approve of my lifestyle," said Tran, expressing incredulity at the church's and Dupre's position on same-sex marriages when some studies report as many as 30 to 50 percent of priests are gay.

Tran said he struggled for many years to accept his sexual identity. "It isn't something I chose."

Tran said he always knew the alleged abuse was wrong but never viewed himself as a victim until two years ago when he encountered a 12-year-old nephew at the hospital when his grandfather was dying.

"I saw how young and vulnerable I was at that age when the (alleged) abuse began. I went to my car and cried for a long time," Tran said.

Tran said his was looking for a father figure when he met Dupre, adding that he often felt intense guilt over the relationship.

Tran introduced Deshaies to Dupre when they became friends when both attended Holyoke Catholic High School.

Dupre is the only U.S. bishop who has been indicted on abuse charges during the current Catholic clergy abuse scandal.

©2005 The Republican
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Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests