New sexual abuse lawsuits filed against Worcester
By Kathleen A. Shaw, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
Thursday, December 30, 2004
WORCESTER New civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse
by six priests of the Catholic Diocese of Worcester, three
of whom have not been accused previously in legal action,
were filed Tuesday in Worcester Superior Court.
The suits name the Rev. John J. Bagley, former diocesan chancellor,
who was removed in 2002 by former Bishop Daniel P. Reilly
after another allegation was made; the Rev. Raymond P. Messier
and the Rev. Henry S. Banach, who have civil suits involving
other allegations pending against them; the Rev. Leo J. ONeil,
who is now retired; and the Rev. Bernard R. Reilley and Monsignor
Michael L. Carney, both of whom are deceased. The suits were
filed by Boston lawyer Carmen L. Durso.
The suits list the following allegations:
Rev. John J. Bagley, now of Hyannis, allegedly assaulted
a male victim in 1963 when he was assigned to Christ the King
parish in Worcester. The alleged victim was about 15 at the
Rev. Bagley was pastor of St. Marys Church in North
Grafton when he was removed from ministry in 2002 by Bishop
Reilly after the bishop received another allegation of sexual
abuse involving an underage youth who said he was sexually
assaulted in 1967 at Christ the King parish.
Rev. Leo J. ONeil, now retired, was assigned
to St. Joseph Church in Barre in 1975 when he allegedly sexually
abused a 14-year-old boy, then an orphan living at the Stetson
Home for Boys in the same town.
Monsignor Michael L. Carney, who died in 1981, was
assigned to St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Worcester in
1977 and 1978 when he allegedly sexually abused a 15-year-old
Rev. Bernard R. Reilley, who died in 1990, allegedly
sexually assaulted a girl in Worcester. A woman alleges she
was sexually assaulted by Rev. Reilley in her Worcester home
starting in 1952 when she was about 2 and continuing until
Rev. Henry S. Banach allegedly abused a boy age 12
or 13 in 1976 and 1977 when he was assigned to St. Hedwig
parish in Southbridge. He is retired and living in Worcester.
He has been accused of sexual abuse by three other men in
a pending civil suit.
Rev. Raymond P. Messier allegedly abused a boy about
age 12 in 1976 and 1977 when he was serving at St. Joan of
Arc parish in Worcester. The alleged assault happened at the
priests Charlton home.
Rev. Messier was pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in
Athol and St. Peters parish in Petersham when he was
removed from ministry in 2002 by Bishop Reilly after another
allegation was made. He is now living in Charlton. He has
been accused by three other men in a pending civil suit.
The filing of these suits comes at a time when lawyers for
alleged victims and the Worcester Diocese have been working
to settle suits that were filed in 2002 and 2003.
James Gavin Reardon, lawyer for the Worcester Diocese, said
he has not seen the new lawsuits and cannot comment. He added,
however, that the new allegations will be turned over to the
office of District Attorney John J. Conte.
Mr. Reardon said Mr. Durso frequently releases his lawsuits
to the media before they are received by the diocese, which
makes it difficult for the diocese to comment. He said that
the lawsuits will be answered in due course within
Mr. Durso said he is filing these suits before the end of
the year to protect the legal rights of his clients under
the statute of limitations laws of the state. The lawsuits
all state the alleged victims did not make the connection
between past abuse and difficulties in their lives until about
He said had the diocese chosen to sit down and settle the
suits out of court, further legal action might not have been
necessary. We could have had mediation talks,
Mr. Durso has been critical of the diocese for failing to
hold settlement talks on the pending lawsuits and said the
dioceses settlement figures, which range from $3,000
to $7,500, are the lowest being offered in the United States
and the world. The diocese has said the suits they have offered
to settle for these sums lack merit.