SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Diocese has come out to clear the name of a former bishop named in a sexual abuse investigation.
Last September, a victim came forward about his molestation by two now deceased priests — Reverend Edward Authier and Reverend Clarence Forand.
In a newspaper article published earlier this week, the headline read that former Bishop Chistopher Weldon was not listed as ‘credibly accused,’ despite “Diocesan Board’s finding.”
In a statement to 22News, Diocesan Review Board Chairman John Hale said the board would like to clarify “inaccurate” reporting in a May 29 article in the Berkshire Eagle.
Chairman Hale’s statement reads,
“Let me be clear, the Review Board has never found that the late Bishop Christopher Weldon, deceased since 1982, engaged in improper contact with anyone. The complaint reported on in the Eagle article involved sexual misconduct involving two now deceased priests that dates back to the early 1960s with the individual recalling it within the last few years and bringing the complaint to the Review Board in 2018.”
Mark Dupont of Catholic Communications responded, “There was never a claim from this victim of Bishop Welson sexually abusing him. As a matter of fact, the victim in this case specifically said otherwise. What the review board did find was the victim had made credible allegations against two deceased priests of the Diocese.”
Dupont told 22News, the process to determine who is named on the diocese’s online list of “credibly accused clergy” is currently under review. For example, naming those who are accused of sexually abusing a child after they are dead.
“With allegations that come 30, 40, 50 years after the fact we don’t list that clergy member’s name on the list with the understanding that they never had the opportunity to defend their good name,” Dupont explained, saying that’s why former Priest Authier was not listed as “credibly accused.”
Dupont told 22News, it was the victim who alleged that Bishop Weldon had actual knowledge of the abuse or that he should have known because he was present at a gathering where some of the abuse took place.