Two former altar boys at a Massachusetts Roman Catholic church have filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually abused by a now deceased priest whose supervisor, Daniel Cronin, went on to serve as Archbishop of Hartford for more than a decade.
The suit was filed in Hartford in January but came to light Monday when the New Jersey advocacy group Road to Recovery announced to the media that the suit had been filed.
The complaint alleges that former Fall River Bishop Daniel Cronin did not properly supervise the late Monsignor Maurice Souza, accused in court documents of sexually abusing the boys over a period of years. The lawsuit said the abuse began I the 1970s when the boys were 9 and 10 and continued until their teens, when Souza was at St. Anthony’s Church in Falmouth.
The lawsuit is “old and is being dealt with by the diocese,” said John Kearns, a spokesman for the Fall River Diocese. Souza, who died in 1996, has not faced any previous allegations of wrongdoing, Kearns said.
Cronin, who is 86, became archbishop in Hartford in 1992, after nearly 30 years as bishop in Fall River. He retired in 2003 after turning 75. According to the suit, Cronin was responsible for making sure that Souza was fit to work with children. The claim also says that Cronin should have developed and enforced policies limiting unsupervised interaction between priests and minors.
The claim was brought by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, and it’s not the first time he has named Cronin in a lawsuit. In 2003, Garabedian filed 70 lawsuits alleging abuse in the Boston archdiocese, including two suits that named Cronin.
Cronin and the diocese have not formally responded to the latest suit, but their lawyers have asked that the case be dismissed, saying it should have been brought in Massachusetts, not Connecticut.
According to court documents, the boys traveled with Souza in Connecticut and Massachusetts for athletic contests and other events and were sexually abused in both states. Souza provided “rewards and inducements” to the boys and threatened to replace one of them with another travel companion and showed “anger” to the other, the complaint said.