SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – An official report has been filed with the Hampden District Attorney’s Office, in connection with sex abuse allegations against a late Springfield bishop.
Bishop Mitchell Rozanski filed that report Thursday, after meeting with the man who has accused Bishop Christopher Weldon of sexually abusing him, back in the 1960s.
This comes after a dispute made headlines in recent weeks, about whether the sex abuse survivor had already reported the allegations against Bishop Weldon.
The man claimed that he reported the allegations to the Diocesan Review Board in June of 2018, while testifying about abuse allegations against two other deceased priests — Reverend Edward Authier and Reverend Clarence Forand.
The board denied that claim, and said while the man mentioned Bishop Weldon in his testimony, he never accused him of sexual abuse, even though they did find allegations he made against the two other late priests to be credible.
Springfield Diocese Spokesman Mark Dupont told the I-Team on Thursday, the sex abuse survivor did report the allegations when he met with Bishop Rozanski and Jeffrey Trant, the Director of the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance.
He said the allegations against Bishop Weldon were documented, and have since been reported to the Hampden District Attorney’s Office.Olan Horne, an advocate for the survivor told the I-Team, this has been a long time coming. “Here’s an individual who doesn’t have a lawsuit, wants to tell the truth because he believes that his testimony will make it a better place. The Bishop asked directly, were you abused by Bishop Weldon, and he clearly stated not only did I tell you and the review board, but yes.”
Dupont said the Bishop is now trying to determine how this complaint should be handled. “In addition, Bishop Rozanski is seeking guidance on how this complaint should now be handled in light of the new policies and procedures agreed upon last week by the US Bishops but not yet implemented. Both Bishop and Mr. Trant appreciate the courage it takes any person, including this individual, to share such a traumatic story of abuse.”
He also told the I-Team that once they’ve determined the appropriate process, the Diocese will inform the sex abuse survivor, who brought forth the allegation.
The I-Team has also recently received reports that Bishop Weldon knew about sex abuse that was happening at the church, when he served as Bishop of Springfield.
Dupont said they’re aware of speculation regarding the former bishop’s knowledge of clergy sex abuse, that occurred decades ago. “In 2004, the Hampden County DA seized and thoroughly reviewed our records and found nothing to support those claims.”
Despite the findings, he said the diocese has provided more than $2.2 million in counseling and therapy services, and another $14.9 million in financial support to numerous victims who have come forward with abuse allegations. “We continue to urge other victims to come forward.”