SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Diocese of Springfield released its findings after allegations of inappropriate behavior with minors by a co-founder of New Spirit Inc.
According to Springfield Diocese spokesperson Mark Dupont, in July of 2021 the Diocese of Springfield first learned about a 2018 complaint against Barry Kingston alleging he engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors at New Spirit Inc.’s summer camp weeks at Camp Holy Cross in 2007.
Dupont told 22News during the intake with the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, it was further alleged that this individual had brought their concerns to New Spirit, Inc. leadership in 2018, but no action was undertaken nor was this reported to the proper authorities.
After learning of the complaint, all New Spirit Inc. activities were suspended. The diocese informed the Northwestern District Attorney’s office and the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Services will have a separate investigation into these allegations.
The Review Board concluded the diocese investigation and Bishop Byrne has received and accepted the following findings:
- That there is not credible evidence to find that Barry Kingston sexually abused, molested or
groomed minor children at New Spirit, Inc activities within the Diocese of Springfield.
- There was sufficient evidence that Mr. Kingston’s behavior in his position as co-founder of New
Spirit, Inc. while providing ministry within the Diocese of Springfield was inappropriate and
involved multiple boundary violations with multiple minor children. As a result, Mr. Kingston is
permanently banned from any work, volunteer activity, performances or ministry in any capacity
with minor children within any parish, school, agency or any other related or affiliated ministry in
the Diocese of Springfield.
- There was insufficient information at this time for the Review Board to make a determination
regarding Patrick Sears and the allegation that he failed to report possible abuse that was disclosed
to him. The Review Board did recommend that until such time Mr. Sears is willing to provide
requested information and participate in a supplemental investigation, he remain suspended from all
ministerial work or volunteer activity taking place in the Diocese of Springfield. He has been
informed of this decision.
- Regarding the allegation against New Spirit camp chaplain and board member Franciscan Father
Rick Martignetti, OFM (Order of Friars Minor) that he failed to take appropriate action to report
possible abuse that was disclosed to him, the Review Board recommended that there be no finding.
Nonetheless, they did recommend, and Bishop Byrne has accepted, that prior to being granted
faculties to minister in the Diocese of Springfield, Father Martignetti must;
a. Complete a Massachusetts specific mandated reporter training program.
b. Be required to review and sign the Code of Conduct for the Diocese of Springfield.
c. Lastly, Father Martignetti must meet, face-to-face, with either Bishop Byrne or his designee
to discuss child protection expectations when engaging in any potential future ministry in
the Diocese of Springfield.
- Finally, as a result of their review of these matters, the diocesan Review Board has recommended
that in the future any and all contractors, subcontractors, and/or vendors who would be directly
working with minor children within any parish, school, agency or other related ministry in the
Diocese of Springfield be required to comply with the diocesan Safe Environment Policies and be
subject to oversight. This recommendation has been forwarded to the diocesan Office of safe
Environment and Victim Assistance.
“Although I do not hesitate in accepting and implementing these recommendations, I do so with a heavy heart having heard from many individuals of the important and transformational impact New Spirit Inc.’s ministry had on so many over the course of the past 25 years. Sharing the Good News and their love for Jesus Christ with countless youth and young adults. But that same Good News also directs us to recognize the dignity of each person, formed in the image of Jesus Christ, and in turn the specific responsibility we have to care for our younger brothers and sisters. Anything less than this is unacceptable.”Statement from Bishop Byrne
New Spirit Inc. is a non-profit organization separate from Camp Holy Cross and the Diocese of Springfield. The Organization provides spiritual retreats and activities for Catholic youth throughout Massachusetts and in surrounding dioceses.