SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Catholic Diocese of Springfield is backing up its commitment to transparency regarding clergy abuse with an announcement planned for Wednesday morning.
Bishop of Springfield William Byrne spoke Wednesday morning at the Bishop Marshall Center behind St. Michael’s Cathedral at 10 a.m.
The Springfield Diocese has added 40 names to the list of clergy and staff with credible accusations of sexual abuse made against them.
Bishop Byrne announced an expansion of criteria for the list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving the Diocese of Springfield. The list now includes clergy and staff accused after their death, religious order members, clergy from other dioceses, and employees of a church who are not considered clergy members.
Previously, the policy was the person accused had to be a cleric or priest of the Springfield Diocese, and they had to be living at the time of the allegation.
Full Announcement Below:
“These are not new allegations. Most date back decades,” Bishop Byrne explained. “They are newly listed names.”
The allegations added to the list were found credible by a Review Board. The earliest date back to the 1940s.
This announcement follows new conclusions from the Hampden County DA related to the 1972 murder of Danny Croteau. District Attorney Gulluni announced they had enough evidence to charge former diocese priest Richard Lavigne with Croteau’s murder but Lavigne died before charges could be filed.
Doug Cole is a survivor of abuse. He shared his story and urged other survivors to come forward.
“Reach out. Tell your story. You are not alone. I once called myself a victim, but I am a survivor,” Cole said.
The policy changes come a day after the Vatican on Tuesday announced that it’s changing it’s legal code to criminalize child abuse by clergy.
Bishop Byrne was joined by Jeffrey Trant, Director of the Office of Safe Environment and
members of the survivor community.
Bishop Byrne encouraged people who have survived sexual abuse “by clergy or any personnel of the diocese” to report their experience to law enforcement, as well as to the diocese through the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance at413-452-0624, its confidential toll-free number at 800-842-9055, or firstname.lastname@example.org.