Sex Abuse Claim Against Late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon Demonstrates Challenge Victims Face

Springfield Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski will meet Thursday with an alleged clergy sex abuse victim, who says he told a diocesan Review Board a year ago that he had been sexually abused decades ago by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.

The Review Board has disputed that his June 2018 testimony included allegations of direct abuse by Weldon, though three individuals present say he named Weldon.

Rozanski, who was in Baltimore this past week for a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meeting where clergy abuse was among the topics discussed, was said to have found the allegations involving Weldon “deeply troubling.”

It is unclear what resolution will come from the meeting between the alleged victim and Rozanski, but the situation highlights the difficulty for those coming forth with accusations of sexual misconduct involving a deceased bishop.

An area of legal conflict in the Springfield diocese has been how far back it was aware of clergy sex abuse. This has been an issue particularly associated with Weldon’s 27 years as bishop and any allegations made against clergy at that time. There are concerns as well that pertinent files kept by Weldon may have been destroyed after his death in 1982 by the executor of his will — who had himself faced claims of sexual abuse.

E.J. Fleming’s book “Death of an Altar Boy” makes the argument that Weldon knew early on from detectives that then diocesan priest Richard Lavigne — who pleaded guilty in 1992 to molesting two boys and was later removed from the clerical state by the Vatican — was a suspect in the unsolved 1972 murder of 13-year-old altar boy Danny Croteau.

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