Supreme Judicial Court docket permits Bishop Weldon abuse lawsuit to … – Berkshire Eagle

Monument's days numbered at disgraced bishop's resting place (copy) (copy)

This former monument to the late Christopher J. Weldon was eliminated after an unbiased inquiry discovered trigger to imagine that Weldon, who oversaw the Springfield Diocese from 1950 to 1977 and died in 1982, sexually abused an altar boy in Chicopee. That survivor now could be suing the diocese and individuals who labored for it, claiming that they labored in numerous methods to cowl up his assertions of clergy abuse. The Supreme Judicial Court docket this week rejected an try by the diocese to have the lawsuit dismissed.

Greater than half a century in the past, when the Catholic bishop for western Massachusetts and different clergymen were raping and abusing an altar boy, charities like church buildings held immunity from sure authorized actions.

Although the Legislature ended common-law charitable immunity in 1971, the legislation change wasn’t retroactive. In April, a lawyer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield argued earlier than the Supreme Judicial Court docket {that a} civil lawsuit filed by that former altar boy over his abuse by former Bishop Christopher Weldon ought to be dismissed.

The church remained protected by that immunity, the lawyer argued.

This week, the SJC rejected that declare.

The choice means the unnamed Chicopee man’s lawsuit against the diocese will transfer ahead in Hampden County Superior Court docket.

Charitable immunity, Affiliate Justice David A. Lowy wrote in a 25-page determination, doesn’t defend the diocese from counts within the lawsuit associated to sexual assaults by Weldon and different clergymen — violence the diocese acknowledged occurred within the early Nineteen Sixties.

“It doesn’t defend the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield from the counts alleging sexual assault in opposition to the plaintiff, as these allegations don’t contain conduct associated to a charitable Mission,” Lowy wrote.

For that purpose, Lowy’s determination says, Choose Karen L. Goodwin “correctly denied the movement to dismiss on the bottom of charitable immunity for the counts alleging sexual abuse of the plaintiff.”

The case was elevated from the Appeals Court docket to the SJC in December as a result of the excessive courtroom wished to think about points it raises. They included whether or not the diocese, which incorporates all of Berkshire County, was protected, in these circumstances, by charitable immunity, the authorized safety in place on the time of the assaults.

State courts had declined to dismiss the litigation. In an earlier motion March 4, Lowy denied a move by legal professionals for the diocese and different defendants to delay proceedings within the case, saying the plaintiff “has a proper to expeditious decision of his case.”

In that earlier determination, Lowy mentioned the case wanted to be heard to judge protection claims. “The defendants’ claims of each charitable immunity and lack of subject material jurisdiction look like factually sure up with the deserves of Doe’s claims, not collateral to them,” Lowy wrote.

The lawsuit had been scheduled for a ultimate pretrial convention by June 30 in Hampden County Superior Court docket. The courtroom has prolonged the interval of discovery on the request of the defendants.

The lawsuit, introduced by a person recognized solely as John Doe, contains two units of claims. The primary pertains to the Nineteen Sixties abuse. The second stems from occasions after the plaintiff reported that abuse in 2014, and whether or not the church injured him additional by means of its inaction and what the go well with claims was an tried cover-up in 2019.

In 2020, an outdoor decide employed by the diocese decided the person’s allegations in opposition to Weldon and two different clergymen to be “unequivocally credible.”

The man’s lawsuit, filed in February 2021 by Nancy Frankel Pelletier of the Springfield agency Robinson Donovan, claims that Doe was repeatedly and violently abused by clergy members.

After he reported that abuse a long time later to the diocese, the person’s legal professionals say he was met by “deliberate indifference” — conduct the go well with claims left him additional traumatized. The grievance alleges individuals who work or labored for the diocese performed roles in suppressing the person’s preliminary reviews of abuse by Weldon and different clergy.

Lawyer Michael G. McDonough, of Egan, Flanagan and Cohen of Springfield, represents the diocese and most of eight different defendants.

Along with the Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield, a Company Sole, the lawsuit names John J. Egan, former Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, Patricia McManamy, Monsignor Christopher Connelly, Jeffrey Trant, John Hale, Kevin Murphy and Mark Dupont.

Comments are closed.