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Spotlight Report

2d man agrees to aid case against bishop

By Michael S. Rosenwald and Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 2/27/2004

The second of two men who assert they were sexually abused as teenagers by the former Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield has agreed to help Hampden County prosecutors, if they should decide to prosecute Bishop Thomas L. Dupre, a lawyer said yesterday.

Roderick MacLeish, who represents the alleged victims, said yesterday both men say they are willing to help authorities build a case against Dupre.

One man decided to offer assistance after an emotional meeting Tuesday with Hampden District Attorney William M. Bennett. MacLeish said yesterday that the other man had a long conversation with Bennett on Wednesday night. The alleged victim told Bennett that, like the first man, he had phone records, letters, and cards showing a relationship between him and Dupre, MacLeish said.

If he is charged, Dupre, 70, would become the first Catholic bishop in the United States to face criminal charges of sexually abusing minors. He retired two weeks ago after The Republican newspaper of Springfield told him about the allegations.

Dupre is a patient at St. Luke Institute, a Maryland medical facility that treats priests with emotional, behavioral, and psychological problems, including those who have sexually abused people.

Michael Jennings, Dupre's lawyer, said he would have no comment until he heard from prosecutors what direction the investigation is taking. The district attorney's office also declined to comment.

While authorities have told diocesan officials not to disrupt Dupre's files, a spokesman for the diocese said a search had not been conducted, and he did not know whether one was imminent.

Meanwhile, diocesan officials issued a news release yesterday detailing procedures for the church's investigation of allegations against Dupre.

First, the sole church authority empowered to handle the allegations against him is the Holy See, the release says. Church law requires the diocese to send information on the matter there. Springfield Diocese officials said the information would be sent first to the papal nuncio in Washington, D.C., and then to Rome.

A copy of the information will be forwarded to the metropolitan, the chief local bishop of the region, which in this case is Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, for "informational purposes only." O'Malley said yesterday that he had received the information.

"The Holy See has been informed, and he's [Dupre] already left office, so really at this point it will depend on the Holy See and that local diocese -- the administrator, or the new bishop, when he is named -- to deal with it," O'Malley said.

The Springfield Diocese will await action and instruction from the Holy See, according to the news release. It will also provide the information to the district attorney and the Diocesan Review Board.

Michael Paulson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

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