Judge denies church’s bid to dismiss sex abuse lawsuit
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts Superior Court judge has denied a motion by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a man who says he was sexually abused as a child in the 1960s by a bishop and two priests.
The suit, brought by a Chicopee man identified in court documents as John Doe, says the plaintiff was victimed twice, first as an altar boy when he was repeatedly raped by the clergymen, and again more recently when the church failed to respond properly to his reports of that abuse.
In a 13-page decision released earlier this month, the judge said while the First Amendment protects “the free exercise” of religion, that does not shield the diocese from claims that it tried to conceal sexual abuse, The Berkshire Eagle reported Thursday.
The suit names former Bishop Mitchell Rozanski and seven diocesan officials as defendants.
An independent investigator last year found the Chicopee man’s claims of abuse to be “unequivocally credible,” prompting an apology from Rozanski.
Carolee McGrath, a spokesperson for the diocese, said it tries to reach settlements with survivors and will continue to do so in this case.
The defendants plan to appeal to the state Appeals Court.