MA diocese settles rape allegations against a long-deceased Bishop by an ex-altar boy

The Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts, has settled with an unnamed plaintiff who credibly claimed Bishop Christopher Weldon sexually abused him six decades ago.

  • The Diocese in Springfield, Massachusetts has settled with a former boy altar boy’s lawsuit alleging that Bishop Christopher Weldon sexually abused him during the 1960s.

  • Weldon, who ceased serving in 1977, died in 1982 and allegedly abused a plaintiff, only known as “John Doe”, along with two other unnamed clerics. The diocese denied these allegations until 2019.

  • “Mr. Doe’s allegations were determined as credible. Therefore, any public statements made on behalf the Diocese in June or May of 2019 which are inconsistent with this is withdrawn,” said Bishop William Byrne of the settlement.

The sides announced on Friday that a lawsuit filed by a former Massachusetts altar boy, who claimed he had been raped by a now deceased Roman Catholic Bishop in the 1960s, has been settled.

In court documents, the plaintiff identified as John Doe claimed that not only had he been abused by former diocese of Springfield bishop Christopher Weldon and two other clergy but that the church also engaged in years-long coverups to protect the Bishop’s reputation.

Even after the allegations of abuse against Weldon had been found credible, officials from the diocesan denied them until 2019.



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In announcing this settlement, the current bishop of the diocese apologized.

Bishop William Byrne stated that “Mr. Doe’s allegations have been determined to be credible. Therefore, any public statements made by the Diocese on May or June 2019 that are inconsistent with this is withdrawn.” “We apologize for any harm that these statements may have caused Mr. Doe. We regret that civil litigation and interaction with the Diocese, which is often the final stop to try to resolve these matters, can make survivors feel victimized.

The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed.

The Diocese in Springfield has reached a settlement with an ex-altarboy whose sex assault claims against Bishop Christopher Weldon, who died in 1982 were deemed credible.

The plaintiff, who was between 9 and 11 years old at the time of the alleged abuse, was an altar boy in St. Anne Parish Chicopee Massachusetts. Weldon was a bishop from 1950 to 1977, and died in 1982.

A retired Superior Court Judge hired by the Diocese determined that allegations of abuse against Weldon are “unambiguously credible” and that “there was a reluctance (to fervently investigate the allegations) against him due to his fame and revered legacy within the religious community.”



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In a press release, Nancy Frankel Pelletier said that the Church has not accepted responsibility for atrocities, despite its protestations.

Bishop Byrne thanked the plaintiff for speaking out and said that the church had learned to respond better to allegations of abuse. He said that anyone who tries to hide or discourage someone from reporting abuse would not be tolerated.

Pelletier stated that “Mr. Doe hopes that Bishop Byrne’s statement will not be ignored and that no survivor is victimized again for speaking the truth.”



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The diocese even took their case all the way to the highest court in the state to try and dismiss the lawsuit based on the charitable immunity and doctrine of church autonomy derived from First Amendment. Last July, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of plaintiff.

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