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Lawyers Release New Church Abuse Files

Dec 20, 2002 | AP

Church personnel files released Thursday detail more shuffling of allegedly abusive priests by the Boston Archdiocese, including one who was mired in sex abuse allegations for 28 years before retiring.

The files were made public by lawyers suing the archdiocese on behalf of people who claim they were sexually abused by priest. Lawyers for most of the approximately 450 people suing the church planned were expected Friday to submit estimates of how much they believe their clients should receive.

One of the attorneys, Carmen Durso, said archdiocese lawyers would have until Jan. 15 to respond. Then the plaintiffs would decide whether to attempt to reach a settlement through mediation, Durso said.

Bishop Richard Lennon, the new interim leader of the fourth-largest U.S. archdiocese, has called on both sides to suspend litigation activities so they can focus on settlement talks.

Durso and two other attorneys who represent alleged victims said they welcomed Lennon's call for jump-starting settlement talks but were unwilling to suspend litigation.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese did not return a telephone call seeking comment Thursday.

Allegations against five priests were in the latest release of personnel documents that the church was forced to give to the alleged victims' attorneys.

The lawyers expected to release more documents Friday, at which point they will have made public 18,000 pages of files detailing allegations against 83 priests.

Thursday's files included allegations against the Rev. Philip Breton, who died in 1984. He was sent to 12 different parishes, was suspended twice and spent three months on retreat in Canada from the time he was ordained in 1936 until his retirement in 1978.

The papers indicate Breton was suspended in 1950 after allegations surfaced he was sexually involved with "a boy (or boys)" in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The following year at St. Louis de France in Lowell, Breton was removed after the parish priest wrote that Breton's presence was a source of scandal and that he was a "menace" to boys.

In 1997, parishioners in Beverly sent letters to the archdiocese concerning more allegations. "This whole business apparently was part of his decision to retire early in 1978," according to another church memo written to a bishop.

In the early 1990s, a man accused Breton of molesting him twice a week over four months in 1957, when he was 15 and Breton was a chaplain at a Cambridge hospital.

The personnel records of another priest, the Rev. Anthony Rebeiro, contain at least a half dozen complaints from women and teenage girls and boys.

Rebeiro, who most recently was chaplain of Quigley Memorial Hospital and Soldiers' Home in Chelsea, was placed on administrative leave in August after a string of complaints were filed by people who claimed he abused them in the 1970s.

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Rebeiro for comment Thursday were unsuccessful; no one answered the telephone number listed in his personnel file.

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