AP

Bishop accused in lawsuit of abusing child decades ago

Aug 2, 2022, 9:08 AM | Updated: 11:26 am

BOSTON (AP) — A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John Doe No. 12, was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Boston.

The Archdiocese of Detroit in a statement said Russell denied the allegations.

“Abp. Russell is shocked and saddened by the claims that have been made,” the statement said. “He states that the allegations are totally without merit and that his conscience is perfectly clear.”

Russell has been placed on “limited” ministerial duty, and Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron has pledged “complete cooperation.”

The suit also names as defendants the Archbishop of Boston and Russell’s supervisor at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart.

“Given it is a pending legal matter we will withhold comment at this time,” a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Boston said in an email.

The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

Russell, who was ordained in 1987, went on to become priest-secretary for the late Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, joined the Vatican’s diplomatic service where he served as the church’s top ambassador to Turkey, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, and was named auxiliary bishop in Detroit in May.

The plaintiff met Russell when he volunteered at the parish food bank, according to the lawsuit. Russell invited the boy back to the parish rectory where he “began to groom him” before sexually assaulting him, the suit said.

The man turned to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism, considered suicide, sought mental health treatment, and still experiences flashbacks as well as feelings of guilt and shame, according to court documents.

He “did not understand he had been harmed by the conduct of the defendants” until 2021. He wishes to remain anonymous because he thinks making his name public “will cause him to be stigmatized, affect his personal relationships, and further harm him emotionally,” according to court documents.

The plaintiff, now in his mid-40s and living outside of Massachusetts, was inspired to come forward by others who have reported allegations of abuse that occurred decades ago, said his attorney, Carmen Durso.

“The age at which people have been coming forward has been getting lower, and mostly it’s because they have heard about other people coming forward, and that has given them the courage to talk about this,” he said. “It’s not so overwhelmingly shameful as it was before.”

Durso said to his knowledge Russell has never before faced abuse allegations.

According to the lawsuit, church officials in Boston have for decades hidden sexual abuse by priests, conspired to keep the information from becoming public, and protected suspected priests from criminal prosecution.

Boston became the center of the Catholic clergy abuse scandal that spread worldwide when The Boston Globe published a series of Pultizer Prize-winning stories that showed priests suspected of abuse had been transferred from parish to parish without alerting parishioners.

The stories were the basis for the 2015 movie “Spotlight,” which won a Best Picture Academy Award.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a church accountability and victim support group, called on the church to release its records on Russell.

“Given Bishop Russell’s high position in the Catholic church … we believe true transparency and accountability will only come when the files on the clergyman held by the church are publicly disclosed,” the group said in a statement.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday...

Associated Press

Some in Houston facing no power for weeks after storms cause widespread damage, killing at least 4

Houston storms cause widespread damage on Friday, May 17. Thunderstorms hit the southeastern part of Texas, killing at least four people.

16 hours ago

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer...

Associated Press

Man gets 30 years in prison for attacking ex-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband with a hammer

A man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for attacking the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with a hammer.

17 hours ago

audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents blocked...

Associated Press

GOP advances Garland contempt charges after White House exerts executive privilege over Biden audio

The move to release audio from President Joe Biden’s interview about classified documents was blocked on Thursday by the White House.

2 days ago

Asylum processing for new migrants: Changes could come soon...

Associated Press

The Biden administration is planning more changes to quicken asylum processing for new migrants

The Biden administration is planning to quicken the asylum processing for new migrants as an interim step rather than an executive order.

3 days ago

Record-setting rally for U.S. stocks reflects inflation slowing down...

Associated Press

Stock market today: Asian shares advance after another round of Wall St records

The S&P 500 jumped 1.2% to top its prior high set a month and a half ago. This move reflects a record-setting rally for U.S. stocks.

3 days ago

This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candida...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump agree to hold presidential debates in June and in September

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have agreed to hold two campaign debates, on June 27 hosted by CNN and on Sept. 10 hosted by ABC.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Bishop accused in lawsuit of abusing child decades ago