Thursday, July 22, 2010

Man Files Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Manchester Diocese

Man Files Sex Abuse Lawsuit Against Manchester Diocese
Man Says He Was Abused By Now-Deceased Priest
POSTED: 12:48 pm EDT July 21, 2010
UPDATED: 6:12 pm EDT July 21, 2010

A second New Hampshire man has come forward to claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by a Colebrook priest.

The 54-year-old man's lawyers said he was an 11-year-old altar boy when the Rev. George St. Jean began repeatedly assaulting him. The man filed the lawsuit anonymously, saying it could cause more psychological harm if people know who he is.

"(The lawsuit) relates to clergy sex crimes committed in the 1960s by a now-deceased priest," said David Clohessy, president of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests.

The lawsuit says St. Jean abused the man when he was an altar boy at St. Brendan's Parish in Colebrook. The man said St. Jean would lure him into his office by offering to discuss coin and stamp collecting.

"We applaud this brave man and hope that this step today of filing this lawsuit today against the Catholic diocese will help him recover from this terrible devastation," Clohessy said.

In May, John Labbe, of Plymouth, N.H., also filed suit. He said St. Jean sexually assaulted him 100 times, also while in Colebrook.

The Diocese of Manchester said it is taking the allegations seriously.

"Any time an allegation comes in, whether the person or priest is living or dead, we report those allegations to civil authorities, in this case, the attorney general's office," said diocese spokesman Kevin Donovan.

But Clohessy said he wants the church to go a step further. He said he wants Bishop John McCormack to post all the names of accused clergy on the diocese's website.

"This is the cheapest, quickest and most effective way Bishop McCormack can try to prevent future sex crimes," Clohessy said.

A person from the Lowell, Mass., area has also accused St. Jean of sexual abuse. According to an attorney general's report, St. Jean is one of 26 New Hampshire priests who have had complaints filed against them.

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