An alleged victim of sexual abuse by a priest says the assault took place in a church rectory after he attended a religious retreat for teens in 1971, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said the victim alleges he was assaulted by the Rev. Edward J. Byington after attending a retreat called Encountering Christ in Others.

Byington allegedly offered the then-teenager a ride home but took him to a rectory in Taunton and assaulted him, Garabedian said in a statement.

Byington had previously served at St. John the Evangelist Church in Attleboro and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Seekonk.

He and another priest, the Rev. James Buckley, were suspended by the Diocese of Fall River Sunday.

“My client is feeling emotionally drained after hearing about the suspension of Fr. Byington and also feels that it is about time that Fr. Byington be publicly outed for accusations of clergy sexual abuse,” said Garabedian, who has represented a number of clergy abuse victims.

The attorney also called on the Catholic Church to be more open about abuse allegations in general.

“I believe that the Catholic Church, although saying the right things, has not made meaningful changes to protect children and help victims try to heal,” he said. “Time and again it has been shown that the Catholic Church either cannot adequately self-police or cannot self-investigate.

“My client’s claim is an appropriate example. It is time for the Diocese of Fall River to provide a complete list of credibly accused priests.”

Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha spoke out on the matter Sunday when the suspensions were announced.

“Nothing is more important than the welfare of all members of our diocesan community, especially anyone who has been harmed or impacted by abuse in any way,” he said. “The Diocese of Fall River remains committed to resolving these matters in as fair and as transparent a process as possible and to ensuring the safety of all youth and vulnerable adults.”

Garabedian is well known in legal circles as someone who has represented a number of victims and his character was portrayed in the award-winning movie “Spotlight.”

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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(1) comment

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