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New allegation of abuse deemed credible against former Pittsfield priest

500px-St_Michaels_Cathedral,_Springfield_MA.jpeg (copy)

St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, home of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. 

PITTSFIELD — A review board run by the Diocese of Springfield has upheld a new allegation of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who served parishioners of a Pittsfield church in the mid-1980s.

The diocese said Wednesday it updated its roster of credibly accused priests to now reflect multiple allegations that Charles J. Sullivan sexually abused minors.

Sullivan, who served the diocese from 1965 to 1992, died in 2014. He was assigned to St. Mary the Morning Star Parish in Pittsfield from 1984 to 1986.

The newly confirmed allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dates to 1994, the diocese said; the previously confirmed allegation concerns abuse in 1993. Sullivan was removed from public ministry in 2002, the diocese said, and “assigned to a life of prayer and penance” in 2005.

This week, the diocese also updated its list of credibly accused priests to include, for the first time, confirmed allegations that the late Gerald A. Lafleur, who served as a priest in parishes in Hampden and Hampshire counties, abused a minor in 1974. Lafleur had been ordained in 1953 and died in 2011.

According to the diocese, an allegation is deemed credible by its review board “if there is a reasonable cause to believe that the sexual abuse occurred. … While it is not a definitive finding of guilt, the public acknowledgement of those credible allegations is a critically important action that the diocese owes to those survivors who have so courageously stepped forward.”

Anyone who wants to report misconduct can contact the diocese’s Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance at (413) 452-0624, call its hotline at 800-842-9055, or send an email to reportabuse@diospringfield.org.

The diocese said it encourages people to also report abuse directly to law enforcement authorities. The diocese said that its list of credibly accused clergy will be updated four times a year, if new abuse cases warrant that.

Larry Parnass can be reached at lparnass@berkshireeagle.com.

and 413-588-8341.

Managing editor for innovation

Larry Parnass joined The Eagle in 2016 from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, where he was editor in chief. His freelance work has appeared in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, CommonWealth Magazine and with the Reuters news service.

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