Former bishop indicted on charges of raping boys

Prosecutor in Mass. says offenses too old for trial

September 28, 2004|By Elizabeth Mehren | Elizabeth Mehren,LOS ANGELES TIMES

BOSTON - The former Roman Catholic bishop of Springfield, Mass., was indicted yesterday on charges of raping two boys during the 1970s, becoming the highest-ranking official of the American church to be indicted since the sexual abuse scandal unfolded in Boston nearly three years ago.

But hours after the indictment was unsealed, Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett said that he would not prosecute Bishop Thomas L. Dupre because the six-year statute of limitations had expired. Bennett said yesterday that he found "no evidence" to support an exception.

Dupre, 70, resigned in February after nine years as head of the Diocese of Springfield - citing ill health - but has retained the title of bishop. He stepped down one day after a Springfield newspaper, the Republican, printed allegations that he had molested the boys while serving as a parish priest.

Dupre's attorney, Michael Jennings, invoked the statute of limitations when he moved to dismiss the charges yesterday: "The alleged offenses occurred almost 30 years ago, and these allegations were not made until eight or nine months ago."

Dupre's alleged victims - two men now in their 40s - have said that the abuse went on for years and that Dupre had told them to keep quiet about it.

Their lawyer, Jeffrey Newman, said they were "disappointed" that Dupre would not be prosecuted. Newman said they planned to pursue civil suits against Dupre and the diocese.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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