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Waltham Priest Allegedly Hid Abuse

Aug 6, 2003 | Newton Daily News Tribune A Middlesex Superior Court judge has taken under advisement several motions in a lawsuit that alleges a Waltham priest knew about and hid the sexual abuse of a 12-year-old boy at the hands of a fellow priest.

Judge Julian T. Houston said yesterday in Middlesex Superior Court that the information presented by alleged victim Donald Smith's attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, will be reviewed. It was not known yesterday when a decision would be made.

According to documents provided by Garabedian's office, the Rev. Joseph Fellin, a Stigmatine priest who currently resides at the St. Joseph's Hall on Lexington Street, knew and covered up the actions of a priest whom he supervised in the 1960s and 1970s.

Smith alleges that the now-deceased Rev. Richard J. Ahern sexually assaulted and raped him several times, beginning in 1970. According to court records, Ahern was at that time affiliated with Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Pittsfield.

Garabedian alleges that Fellin not only knew about the sexual contact, but actually walked in on one of the sexual encounters.

"There was at least one incident in which Father Ahern masturbated plaintiff Donald Smith upstairs in the rectory of Our lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Pittsfield. Defendant Father Fellin entered the room during this abuse and witnessed Father Ahern's actions," a court transcript of Smith's testimony reads.

According to Smith's accounts of the abuse, Ahern molested him and forced him to engage in both oral and anal sex acts.

The civil case seeks to hold Fellin accountable for not reporting the actions of Ahern to the authorities. The suit states that Fellin should have known that the actions of Ahern would have a negative impact on the boy, and that as Ahern's supervisor, Fellin should not have transferred a sexual predator.

Court documents state that Ahern was transferred from the Pittsfield church to a Lynn church, then transferred to an Agawam church before being enrolled in the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville. According to the court records, the final placement was a treatment facility for "problems to his conduct with children."

Fellin's attorneys could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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