Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lawyer says client was abused by Quincy priest now on leave

Lawyer says client was abused by Quincy priest now on leave

By Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger
Posted Jun 30, 2010 @ 08:18 AM
QUINCY — A lawyer who has represented hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse said he will file a civil court complaint on behalf of a man who says he was molested by a longtime Quincy priest who was recently placed on leave.

Mitchell Garabedian said his client, a 54-year-old man who grew up in Quincy and now lives in Dorchester, was abused by the Rev. F. Dominic Menna when he was an altar boy at St. Mary Church between 1963 and 1968.

Garabedian alleged that the Rev. Menna, 82, sexually molested his client “more than 25 times” in the church sacristy and in the woods next to a highway rest area after taking him on trips to an amusement park.

The Rev. Menna served at St. Mary’s from the time he was ordained in 1958 until 1968. He later served at parishes in Wakefield and Revere before returning in 2001 to St. Mary’s, where he was a senior priest in residence.

After learning of accusations that he sexually abused children decades ago, the Boston archdiocese announced June 13 that the Rev. Menna had been placed on paid administrative leave. Those allegations date back 50 years.

The Norfolk County district attorney’s office has said it will not investigate the Rev. Menna because the criminal statute of limitations has lapsed. The archdiocese notified prosecutors in a May 10 letter that more than one person claimed to have been abused by the Rev. Menna.

Spokeswoman Kelly Lynch said the archdiocese does not confirm whether specific people have made accusations against a priest or the status of those investigations.

“The archdiocese is committed to protecting the privacy of individuals who come forward,” she said.

Garabedian said recent media coverage of the Rev. Menna led his client to tell his story. He said the man began recovering repressed memories of the abuse last year.

Several longtime parishioners at St. Mary’s vigorously defended the Rev. Menna after the allegations became public, saying the accusations were untrue.

Garabedian, who has represented more than 750 victims of clergy sex abuse and won millions of dollars in settlements, said he plans to file a civil complaint in Norfolk Superior Court and is likely to pursue negligence claims.

“It’s another case of a person of religious authority taking advantage of a vulnerable child,” Garabedian said. “This child was raised to respect priests and was taught a priest could do no wrong. Father Menna would tell him, ‘God will be mad at you if you tell anybody.’”

Garabedian said the Rev. Menna would drive the alleged victim to Lincoln Park, a now-closed amusement park in Dartmouth, and, on the ride back, molest him in the woods next to a highway rest area.

Garabedian declined to make his client available for an interview.

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