Over two dozen priests who served in the Attleboro area were among 75 clergy whose names were released by the Fall River Diocese Thursday as having been credibly or publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.
“As I pray for a spirit of healing and reconciliation, I know that we cannot move on without an honest accounting of the past,” said Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha in a prepared statement.
“As your bishop, I am deeply and profoundly sorry for the abuse that was perpetrated by priests within this diocese and have recommitted myself to doing everything in my power to ensure this never happens again,” he said.
The list is the result of a review of internal records and files by diocesan personnel and outside experts, in some cases going back 70 years. About three-quarters of the names have been previously made public.
Of the 650 priests who have served as a Fall River diocesan priest since the diocese’s founding in 1904, 44 have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, according to the diocese.
Other individuals named on the credibly accused list were either members of a religious order or belonged to another diocese, the statement said.
Most of the allegations involve conduct that occurred from the 1960s to the 1980s.
There are currently no priests in ministry who have been credibly accused, in keeping with the diocese’s “zero-tolerance” policy, according to the statement.
There are three priests who are living who have been publicly accused, but there has not yet been a determination either under canon law or civil law regarding whether the allegations against them are credible. These priests are prohibited from engaging in public ministry while their cases are in process.
Two of them, Edward J. Byington and Richard E. Degagne have served in the Attleboro area.
Byington previously served at St. John’s the Evangelist in Attleboro and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Seekonk in addition to the Attleboro Area Girl Scouts of America, according to the diocese.
Last year, Attorney Mitchell Garabedian said he represented a client who was allegedly assaulted by Byington in a church rectory in Taunton after he attended a religious retreat for teens in 1971.
Degagne was the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Easton and previously served at St. John’s the Evangelist in Attleboro and Sacred Heart Church in North Attleboro, according to the diocese.
He was suspended in 2019 over alleged misconduct said to have occurred decades ago and before he was a priest, the diocese said.
Among the list who has been publicly accused of misconduct is Alfred Fredette, who once served at LaSalette Shrine. He died in 2000, according to the diocese.
The other priest, Mark R. Hession, who has served at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Seekonk, was indicted by a Barnstable County grand jury in December on two counts of rape and one count each of indecent assault and battery on a child younger than 14 and intimidation of a witness.
He was suspended by the diocese in 2019 after serving four years at Mt. Carmel for “inappropriate communications” with adults, according to the diocese.
Others are classified as “credibly accused” which they say are priests, seminarians and other religious figures against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was made that meets the semblance of truth under church law or probable cause under the legal standard.
One is Armando Annunziato, who died in 1993 and who served at St. Mary’s Church in Mansfield and at St. Mary’s Church in North Attleboro.
After his death, he was accused of witnessing abuse by Father James Porter. Annunziato was serving at St. Mary’s in North Attleboro at that time.
Porter, who is also on the list, admitted to abusing scores of children of both sexes beginning in the 1960s. He was convicted and sent to prison in the 1990s. He died in 2005.
Others on the list include:
- William F. Baker, who served at St. John’s in Attleboro and St. Mary’s Church in Seekonk. He was dismissed in 2015.
- Barney H. Stanley, who once served at St. Mary’s Church in Mansfield.
- William J. Boffa, who once served at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Seekonk and St. Stephen’s Church in Attleboro.
- Norman J. Boulet, who served at St. Stephen’s and St. Joseph’s churches in Attleboro and the Boy Scouts of America in Attleboro. He died in 2015.
- Donald J. Bowen, who served at St. Mary’s Church in Norton and St. John’s in Attleboro. He was dismissed in 2007.
- James A. Clark, who served at Bishop Feehan High School in Attleboro. He was dismissed in 2000 and died in 2011.
- J. Arthur G. Dupuis, who served at St. Joseph’s Church in Attleboro. He died in 1975.
- James W. Fahey, who served at St. Theresa’s Church in South Attleboro. He died in 2016.
- Bento R. Fraga, who served at the Holy Ghost Church in Attleboro. He died in 2012.
- Steven R. Furtado, who served at the Holy Ghost Church in Attleboro. He died in 2016.
- Hernando Herrera, who served at Mt. Carmel in Seekonk. He was dismissed in 2004.
- David W. Lacroix, who served at Our Lady Queen of Martyr’s in Seekonk.
- David J. Landry, who served at St. John’s in Attleboro.
- Raymond W. McCarthy, who served at St. Mark’s Church in North Attleboro. He died in 2005.
- Bruce M. Neylon, who served at St. Mary’s in Mansfield, St. John’s in Attleboro and St. Mary’s in Seekonk. He also served at Sturdy Memorial Hospital.
- Herbert J. Nichols, who served in the Boy Scouts of America in Attleboro.
- Edward O. Paquette, who served at St. Mary’s Church in Mansfield.
- Justin J. Quinn, who served at Madonna Manor and Sacred Heart Church in North Attleboro. He died in 1996.
- Edward Rausch, who served at St. John’s in Attleboro. He was dismissed in 1971 and died in 2014.
- Raymond A. Robillard, who served in the Attleboro parishes of St. John’s, St. Theresa’s, St. Stephen’s and the Holy Ghost Church.
- William J. Shovelton, who served at Mt. Carmel in Seekonk. He died in 2015.
- Kevin F. Tripp, who served at St. John’s in Attleboro. He was dismissed last year.
Those who know of an incident of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest, deacon, employee, or volunteer should immediately call local authorities and then contact Victim Assistance Coordinator Shipp at 508-985-6508 or email@example.com.