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Springfield diocese settles with man raped in 1960s by late Bishop Weldon

Bishop smiling at table

The Most Rev. Christopher J. Weldon poses for photographers at his office in November 1962 after returning from a trip to the Vatican. The Springfield diocese has settled a claim from a man who accused Weldon and two other priests of raping him.

SPRINGFIELD — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has announced a settlement with a Chicopee man who said he was raped as a child in the 1960s by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon and two other priests.

The monetary aspect of the settlement will remain confidential, the man’s attorney has said.

Judge in clergy rape suit says diocese can't have information that reveals confidential Eagle sources

The resolution follows two years of contentious litigation with the man, identified only as “John Doe” in public court filings. The case was headed to trial this month in Hampden Superior Court before the parties signaled a settlement was near.

The Most Rev. William D. Byrne, bishop of the Springfield diocese, issued a lengthy statement on the settlement this morning.

“We as a church must continue to do more for survivors, and we must do it in a quicker and more sensitive fashion,” the statement reads. “I commend John Doe for his courage in coming forward in this matter and by his persistence highlighting areas we must improve. We will.”

The abuse survivor came forward to the diocese’s review board that assesses allegations of clergy abuse with allegations that Weldon and two other late priests gang raped him repeatedly when he was an altar boy of about age 9. His lawsuit also alleges the diocese tried to cover up the accusations aimed at Weldon to protect his legacy.

Larry Parnass, former Berkshire Eagle managing editor for innovation, went public with the story in 2019. He is now executive editor for The Republican.

Settlement near in lawsuit against Springfield diocese over rape, cover-up allegations

An independent investigation ensued and found the survivor’s allegations “unequivocally credible.”

Byrne’s statement on the settlement also says the diocese withdraws any statements made to the contrary.

“Mr. Doe’s allegations were determined to be credible, therefore, any public statement made on behalf of the diocese in May or June of 2019 that is inconsistent with that is withdrawn,” the statement continued. “We apologize to Mr. Doe for any harm those statements caused. We regret that interaction with the diocese and civil litigation, often the last stop in trying to resolve these cases, can leave survivors feeling revictimized.”

The Republican has reached out to the Chicopee man’s attorney for comment.

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