First American bishop indicted for child sexual abuse this morning

Bishop Emeritus of Springfield, Msgr. Thomas Dupre, has been indicted on charges of child rape. The indictment was announced this morning by the county prosecutor. Msgr. Dupre is accused of molesting two boys during the 1970’s, which makes him the first American Roman Catholic prelate indicted specifically on the charge of child sexual abuse.

Msgr. Dupre was Bishop of the Diocese of Springfield for nine years until February 11 this year when he resigned – citing health reasons - the day after he was questioned by The Republican newspaper of Springfield concerning allegations of child abuse during his years as a parish priest.

After his resignation he went to seek treatment in St. Luke Institute a Catholic psychiatric hospital in Maryland which has treated priests accused of sexual abuse.

According to a story written today by Adam Gorlick of the Associated Press, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett has said that charges were possible even though the statute of limitations on the alleged abuse had probably expired because Dupre had allegedly recently attempted to conceal the abuse.

The bishop’s alleged victims, who are suing the bishop and the diocese, claim that Msgr. Dupre asked them to remain silent about the abuse when he was ordained auxiliary bishop in 1990.

They claimed that they were sexually abused by Msgr. Dupre during their teen years in the 1970’s. The first, from the age of 12, when then Fr. Dupre befriended his family. He says that Fr. Dupre took him on out-of-state trips and to Canada, and also bought pornography with him in Connecticut. This lasted until he started dating a girl in high school. The other claims he was abused until he was about 20 years old.

The alleged victims’ lawyer, Roderick MacLeish, has said that one of his clients met with the bishop in December, and said he had never wanted sexual relations with him. Msgr. Dupre, says MacLeish, gave an unemotional apology and asked to remain friends.

The other client, who is gay, came forward with his claims after hearing Dupre speak out against the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Neither Dupre’s lawyer, Michael Jennings, nor the spokesman for the Diocese of Springlfield, Mark Dupont, had any immediate comments.

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