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Spotlight Report

Priest is arraigned in alleged rape of boy

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 9/13/2002

The Rev. John P. Lyons, who was suspended as a priest in May for allegedly sexually abusing two altar boys in Brighton, yesterday was arraigned in Wareham District Court for allegedly orally raping an 8-year-old boy in a classroom at St. Rose of Lima Church in Rochester.

The unidentified male, who is now 23, was allegedly raped five times between 1987 and 1989, said Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz. Lyons, 73, was arrested at his home in Plymouth by State Police and was arraigned in Wareham District Court. Lyons pleaded not guilty. His next appearance in court will be Oct. 3.

Bail was set at $7,500 by Judge Rosemary B. Minehan. The Plymouth district attorney's office had requested bail of $25,000. As of last night, Lyons had not made bail, according to Michael Feele, spokesman for the Plymouth Sheriff's Department.

Lyons, who was ordained in 1955, had been under investigation since late August, said Cruz. The alleged victim said Lyons first fondled him and later orally raped him in a classroom for religious education between the church and the rectory. The sentence for rape can range from probation to life.

Lyons, who had been pastor of the Rochester church, was suspended by the Archdiocese of Boston on May 31, after he was sued in Suffolk Superior Court by two men who said he molested them as altar boys at Our Lady of the Presentation Church in Brighton during the 1970s and early 1980s. The suits are unrelated to yesterday's arrest.

One of the men told his parents about the alleged abuse at the time of the attacks. In June his mother told the Globe she complained to another priest at the Brighton church, who passed along the allegation to Bishop John M. D'Arcy. D'Arcy, the mother said, told the priest to have her make a complaint directly to the pastor, but she never did.

The alleged Brighton victim yesterday said any problems in Rochester could have been prevented if the church had acted when his mother first complained.

''This sickens me,'' said the man, who asked not to be identified. The Globe does not publish the names of alleged victims of sexual abuse without their consent. ''This could have been prevented if the archdiocese had taken these accusations seriously in 1981. It is just a sin someone had to go through this as a young child.''

Lyons was the 13th priest suspended by the diocese. The archdiocese has suspended 23 priests, although archdiocesan officials have decided charges against Monsignor Michael Smith Foster are groundless, and he has been cleared.

Matt Carroll can be reached at

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 9/13/2002.
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