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Spotlight Report

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Citing statute of limitations, DA drops Spagnolia case

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 3/16/2002

The case against the Rev. D. George Spagnolia, who was forced out of his parish in Lowell by the Boston archdiocese for allegedly sexually abusing a child, will not be pursued because the statute of limitations has run out on the alleged crime, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said yesterday.

Spagnolia was ousted from St. Patrick's in Lowell on Feb. 20 for allegedly molesting a 14-year-old boy 31 years ago in Roxbury. He vehemently denied the charge and parishioners rallied to the popular pastor's cause.

But within days, he admitted he had lied when he told a Globe reporter that he had been celibate during a 20-year absence from the church. He has acknowledged having two gay relationships during that period.

Spagnolia had urged prosecutors, in interviews with the media, to conduct a quick investigation, but Conley said Spagnolia declined to be interviewed, ''as is his right.'' The district attorney's office said from the beginning it appeared the alleged crime was outside the six-year statute of limitations.

Spagnolia could not be reached for comment.

Wendy Murphy, who represents the alleged victim, said it was no surprise. ''I told my client from day one, I don't expect a criminal investigation,'' she said. ''It's been 30 years.''

Donna M. Morrissey, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said, ''We are in the process of reviewing the allegation against Father Spagnolia and he will remain on administrative leave until that process has been completed.''

This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 3/16/2002.
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