Diocese of Springfield on outcome of Danny Croteau cold case: The church must do better

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Years after a Springfield altar boy was found dead along the Chicopee River, the Hampden District Attorney announced the case is closed Monday. 

A shocking ending to a cold case, the DA named former priest Richard Lavigne, as the suspected murderer of Danny Croteau in 1972. 22News spoke with the Bishop of the Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese regarding the new developments in the Croteau case. 

Bishop William Byrne told 22News this case has been hanging over the catholic faith community for almost 50 years and this just serves as a reminder that the church must do better. 

“We will do everything we possibly can to make sure that the church is a safe place for all people,” Bishop Byrne said. 

For 50 years, Former Catholic priest Richard Lavigne remained a suspect in the murder of 13-year-old Danny Croteau, but this past Friday, District Attorney Anthony Gulluni authorized an arrest warrant for Lavigne in that murder.  

Lavigne, however, died in Greenfield earlier that same day. 

“Regrettably, due to Lavigne’s death there will be no prosecution or trial,” Gulluni said. “But due to the creditable and significant evidence that has been assembled in the last year, that incriminates Richard Lavigne.” 

Bishop William Byrne speaking out about that case that has haunted the Diocese since 1972. Saying it’s a reminder of the past failures as a Church to protect children from such quote “terrible predators.” 

“We can’t rewrite history, but we can make the future one that children are safe where they should be in the church,” said Bishop Bryne. 

Bishop Byrne added that any survivors of the clergy sexual abuse are encouraged to come forward, even if the abuser is dead, he said it’s important that survivors be heard. 

Byrne said there may still be many other victims of clergy sexual abuse who have not yet come forward. 

Those victims can call the abuse reporting phone line (800) 842-9055. 

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