Four of 14 new sexual abuse suits involve priests who served locally
By BRAD MORIN
Democrat Staff Writer
DOVER — The Diocese of Manchester is facing more legal problems stemming from the sex scandal, including 14 new lawsuits from plaintiffs who claim the church failed to protect them from abuse.
Attorney Mark Abramson filed the lawsuits Wednesday afternoon in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester. Four of the alleged victims are named in the lawsuits, but most are referred to only as "John Doe."
Some of the allegations have local connections, involving priests who served in Farmington and Exeter. They also involve one priest who formerly served in Rochester and another who was suspended and reportedly living in Dover.
Thirteen of the lawsuits involve priests, while one involves a lay teacher. Four of the priests named in these lawsuits were on a list released in February by the Diocese of Manchester. That list included priests who had been the subject of sexual abuse allegations and had their ministries revoked.
With the new cases filed on Wednesday, Abramson’s clients have now filed a total of 22 claims against the church, seeking unspecified damages. The following are synopses of the new cases:
An unnamed client alleges he was molested by suspended priest Paul Aube in the early 1970s while he was serving at St. Mary’s church in Claremont. Abramson said when his client tried to stop the alleged abuse, Aube told him, "Nobody will believe you. I am a priest."
Aube was named in an earlier lawsuit by one of Abramson’s clients, Daniel Whitehouse of Rochester. He alleges that he was abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s while Aube was serving at Holy Rosary in Rochester.
Aube was on the diocese’s list of accused priests, which stated that he was suspended and living in Manchester. The diocese stated that his permission for pastoral ministry had been revoked.
Robert Gelinas alleges that he was molested by retired priest Gerald Chalifour while he was serving at St. Peter’s in Farmington. Gelinas said the abuse occurred at a camp that belonged to one of Chalifour’s friends, Abramson said.
Chalifour, who also served at St. Martin’s in Somersworth during the 1950s, was on the diocese’s list of accused priests. He was listed as retired, living in Manchester and his ministry was revoked Feb. 15.
q Two unnamed clients allege they were molested by suspended priest Stephen Scruton, whom the diocese reported as living in Dover. One alleged victim claims he was molested during the late 1960s while Scruton was serving at St. Kieran in Berlin. The other plaintiff claims he was molested by Scruton several times from 1968-1969 in the suspended priest’s vehicle, Abramson said.
Scruton was also mentioned in an earlier lawsuit filed by Abramson’s clients. Three brothers accused Scruton of failing to take action after allegedly witnessing abuse committed by another priest in Hudson.
Scruton was also on the diocese’s list of accused priests and his ministry had been revoked earlier at an undisclosed time. When the list was publicized in February, Scruton was fired from his job as a counselor to inmates at a Massachusetts jail.
Two unnamed clients allege they were molested by priest Paul Grolleau. In one case, the alleged abuse occurred from 1969-1973 while Grolleau was serving at St. Michael’s in Exeter. Abramson said the alleged abuse happened at Grolleau’s nearby camp. The other alleged victim claims he was molested from 1969-1971 while Grolleau was serving at St. George’s in Manchester. Grolleau was not on the list released in February.
Two unnamed clients allege they were molested by retired priest Raymond Laferriere while he was serving at St. Augustine’s in Manchester during the 1960s. Laferriere was also on the diocese’s list of accused priests. He was listed as retired, living in Manchester and his ministry was revoked effective Feb. 15.
An unnamed client alleges he was molested by Donald Osgood at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Manchester during the 1960s. This priest was named in another lawsuit filed by one of Abramson’s clients earlier this month, but a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester said at the time that the church had never recorded a complaint against him.
Two clients allege they were molested by priest Alfred Constant while he was serving at St. Anthony’s in Manchester. One alleged victim, Doris David, claims she was abused in the late 1940s. An unnamed male client claims he was abused from 1959-1962. Constant was not on the diocese’s list in February.
An unnamed client alleges he was molested by a male teacher at Trinity High School in Manchester in 1979-1980. Abramson said he has not been able to establish the teacher’s first name.
Roger Crevier alleges he was molested by priest Roland Vielette at St. John’s in Allenstown during the 1970s. Crevier was not on the list released in February.
Raymond Lague alleges that he was molested by Francis Lamothe while he was serving at St. Mary’s in Claremont from 1958 to 1963. Another of Abramson’s clients, Jeffrey Theberge, filed a lawsuit earlier this year that claims Lamothe molested him from 1979 to 1982 in Keene. Lamothe was not on the diocese’s list from February.
Pat McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, was aware of the lawsuits, but said the church had not received the summonses. One or two of the priests named in the lawsuits are now dead, he said.
McGee said the Diocese of Manchester is represented by attorney Brad Cook of Sheehan, Phinney, Bass and Green.
Abramson said clients in eight of his cases are seeking $3 million attachments on church property, though similar motions will eventually be filed in all of the cases. The court has begun scheduling hearings on those requests, he said.
Democrat Staff Writer Brad Morin can be reached at 742-4455 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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