Friday, July 16, 2010

Judge denies former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre motion to keep video testimony from public

Judge denies former Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre motion to keep video testimony from public
Published: Thursday, July 15, 2010, 5:08 PM Updated: Thursday, July 15, 2010, 9:57 PM
Stephanie Barry, The Republican

The Republican file photo / Dave RobackThe Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, left, former bishop of the Springfield Catholic Diocese, speaks at a press conference in 2003 about a plan to handle abuse by priests. A year later he was accused of molesting two boys in Holyoke.

SPRINGFIELD - As his defense lawyer feared, a videotaped deposition of disgraced Bishop Thomas L. Dupre may soon make the Internet in the wink of a cybereye, after a Hampden Superior Court judge denied his motion to keep the interview from the public.

During a court hearing on Wednesday, lawyers wrangled over whether a three-hour interview taped in connection with a civil lawsuit against Dupre and other church officials should be made available for public consumption.

Dupre’s lawyer, Michael O. Jennings, argued that the interview featured his client asserting his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself for three hours, and that making it public would serve no other purpose than to embarrass him.

“It will only serve to cause him embarrassment, harassment, or perhaps worse. This will be on the Internet by tomorrow night,” Jennings told Judge Bertha D. Josephson, who was apparently unconvinced by the argument and denied the motion on Thursday afternoon.

Dupre was bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield until 2004 when he retired overnight and fled to a Maryland treatment center for priests amid molestation allegations. Two men later sued him for sexually abusing them during the 1970s while they were teens and Dupre was a parish priest. The prelate eventually settled out of court with his accusers for an undisclosed sum.

Dupre was in 2004 charged with child rape in connection with the allegations, but the prosecution stalled because the case was so old.

More recently, the prelate was named in a lawsuit by a Williamstown man who said Dupre and other church officials failed to properly supervise a priest who molested him during the 1980s. Plaintiffs’ lawyer John J. Stobierski conducted a videotaped interview on April 16 in connection with that complaint.

After stating his name and date of birth, Dupre pleaded the fifth in response to three hours of questions, Stobierski said. According to local Catholic officials, he has voluntarily retired from any public ministry.

However, Stobierski said Dupre wore his clerical collar throughout the interview. The lawyer opposed Jennings’ motion to keep the deposition under wraps, and said he was pleased with Josephson’s ruling.

“We think it’s consistent with the law as well as the spirit of openness in these matters,” Stobierski said.

Jennings said he may appeal the ruling. Stobierski said he will give the defense lawyer until Monday to consider that, and will disseminate the video then if he declines to appeal.

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