The accusations come from a civil lawsuit filed this week in Worcester Superior Court by Timothy P. Staney and his parents, Joseph and Corinne Staney.
The lawsuit states that Gagnon used information obtained in a confessional with Staney to set Staney up as Gagnon’s sex partner. The alleged incidents took place when Gagnon was a priest at the Holy Name of Jesus parish in Worcester.
Members of the St. Augustine parish where Gagnon has served for about six years have privately expressed shock over the matter. Some believe Gagnon left town Wednesday afternoon.
The Pastoral Care Committee is scheduled to meet this morning, said Ray Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester. The committee will then forward its recommendations on what steps to take with the St. Augustine parish to Bishop Daniel Patrick Reilly, he said.
A statement from the diocese is expected later today.
As for the church’s response to the allegations, “they have 20 days in which to file an answer,” said Houston-based attorney Daniel J. Shea, who is representing the Staney family.
Within 10 days of receiving that answer, Shea added, he will start taking depositions.
“They (church) could decide to settle this case or it could drag on for years,” he said.
The lawsuit also names as defendants both the Diocese of Worcester and Raymond Tremblay, who was a religious education teacher at the Holy Name of Jesus parish.
The abuse began in 1980, when Staney was 10, and lasted five years, according to the lawsuit. Tremblay allegedly molested and sexually abused Staney at the church, Tremblay’s house and other locations.
When Staney confessed the details to Gagnon at age 14, Gagnon used that information “to take over for himself,” Shea said.
Gagnon allegedly molested and sexually abused Staney at the church, at Staney’s home and at Gagnon’s summer home in Brimfield.
Both Tremblay and Gagnon threatened to discredit both the boy and his parents, as well as hurt his parents’ teaching careers, if Staney reported the abuse, according to the lawsuit.
Noting that Staney’s parents signed on as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Shea said, this type of crime “victimizes the whole family.”