FALL RIVER, Mass. Two former altar boys at a Massachusetts Roman Catholic church have filed a lawsuit alleging they were sexually abused by a now deceased priest, while the former bishop of Fall River did nothing to stop it.
The suit was filed in Hartford, Connecticut, in January but came to light Monday when the New Jersey advocacy group Road to Recovery announced to the media that the suit had been filed.
The complaint alleges that former Fall River Bishop Daniel Cronin did not properly supervise the late Monsignor Maurice Souza, accused in court documents of sexually abusing the boys over a period of years, beginning when they were 9 and 10 in the 1970s and continuing until their teens, when Souza was at St. Anthony’s Church in Falmouth.
The now-retired Cronin went on to become archbishop of Hartford. Souza died in 1996.
The lawsuit is “old and is being dealt with by the diocese,” church spokesman John Kearns said.
Souza has not faced any previous allegations of wrongdoing, Kearns said.
According to court documents, the boys traveled with Souza in Connecticut and Massachusetts for athletic contests and other events and were sexually abused in both states.
Souza provided “rewards and inducements” to the boys and threatened to replace one of them with another travel companion and showed “anger” to the other, the complaint said.
The suit was filed by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian.