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Order Faces Suit Over BG Settlement

Jan 22, 2003 | Nashua Telegraph

Two brothers filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing members of the religious order that owns Bishop Guertin High School of withholding information that would have affected the outcome of a settlement reached last month.

Identified in court papers only by their initials, the two men claim that Brother Guy Beaulieu sexually abused them while they attended Camp Fatima in Gilmanton as children. They were 6 and 8 at the time the alleged abuse happened at the camp owned by the Diocese of Manchester.

These two men, along with two others who claimed Beaulieu abused them at the camp, were part of a settlement reached last month with the diocese and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

The new lawsuit claims the two men were led to believe in sworn statements by Brother Leo Labbe, the former president of Bishop Guertin, and Brother Roland Dupuis that the order had no knowledge of any allegations of abuse against Beaulieu until the 1990s.

Yet a sworn deposition by Beaulieu contradicted that. Beaulieu testified last month in a deposition for another lawsuit that he admitted to Labbe during the 1970-71 school year that he had sexually molested a freshman at Sacred Heart Prep School in Pascoag, R.I., according to the suit.

Labbe, headmaster of that school at the time, reported the incident to Dupuis, the former superior of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. Beaulieu also discussed it with Dupuis, the lawsuit claims.

Beaulieu’s deposition proves that “the Order generally, and Labbe in particular, did have actual knowledge” of an allegation of sexual abuse against Beaulieu the year before the brothers were allegedly sexually abused at Camp Fatima, the suit states.

Therefore, the settlement was based upon fraud, argues Manchester attorney Peter Hutchins, who represents the two brothers.

“It’s a critical piece of information they withheld,” Hutchins said.

The lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, accuses Labbe and Dupuis of negligence for failing to protect children from Beaulieu “after they had actual knowledge of a true and admitted complaint of sexual abuse.” The suit also names Beaulieu and the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

“As far as I’m concerned, this was one case and we settled it in December,” said attorney David Pinsonneault, who represents the order. “That’s what we expect to argue in court.”

Pinsonneault reiterated that there was never an admission of liability in the settlement, and the order disputes that there was any deception.

“The plaintiff assumes because one person says something that is, in fact, the case,” Pinsonneault said. “The order is disputing that Leo Labbe lied. We’ll argue those issues in front of a judge.”

Hutchins said his clients, identified in the suit only as W.J.B. and A.R.B, are outraged.

“It’s adding insult to injury to them,” Hutchins said. “It upsets the victim-survivors of clergy abuse even more when the institution had this prior knowledge and didn’t protect them.”

Another of Hutchins’ clients who settled in December with the diocese and the order decided not to be part of this suit. A fourth client is still thinking about it, Hutchins said.

The diocese and the order each paid half of the settlements to the four men. The new lawsuit is seeking additional damages from the order on behalf of the two brothers.

Hutchins would not reveal the amount of the original settlements.

Beaulieu was transferred to Bishop Guertin in the fall of 1971, where he continued to teach until 1991. The order also gave him permission to work during the summers at Camp Fatima, starting in 1972.

The diocese, which runs the camp, terminated Beaulieu in 1977 after receiving a complaint that he had sexually abused a minor there, according to the lawsuit.

Labbe placed himself on administrative leave from Bishop Guertin in November when he was accused of molesting a sixth-grader about 40 years ago at a school in Massachusetts.

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