Priest Abuse In Massachusetts

Massachusetts was one of the first states in the nation to publicly reckon with sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church.

In 2002, The Boston Globe exposed a clergy abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. This in-depth coverage led to many lawsuits against Catholic dioceses nationwide.

The series also inspired changes to legal deadlines in Massachusetts. These new deadlines benefit survivors of priest abuse seeking justice.

Were You Abused by a Priest in Massachusetts?

You May Have Rights to Legal Compensation

Massachusetts was one of the first states in the nation to publicly reckon with sexual abuse by members of the Catholic Church.

In 2002, The Boston Globe exposed a clergy abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston. This in-depth coverage led to many lawsuits against Catholic dioceses nationwide.

The series also inspired changes to legal deadlines in Massachusetts. These new deadlines benefit survivors of priest abuse seeking justice.

Were You Abused by a Priest in Massachusetts?

You May Have Rights to Legal Compensation

Massachusetts Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

Hundreds of survivors have filed lawsuits against clergy members credibly accused of sexual abuse in Massachusetts. Survivors have also taken legal action against the responsible dioceses. Many of the clergy members accused of abuse have also been criminally charged with sexual offenses against minors

Abusive clergy members have been identified in every Massachusetts Catholic diocese. However, some of these abusers have gained notoriety for their prolific abuse:

Clergy Abuse Settlements In Massachusetts

Survivors have also filed lawsuits against responsible Massachusetts dioceses and religious orders for concealing abuse. Many of these lawsuits have resulted in monetary settlements

1992 | Fall River Diocese Pays Multi-Million Dollar Settlement

In 1992, the Fall River Diocese settled cases with survivors abused by James R. Porter. Along with help from its insurance company, the diocese paid more than $5 million to settle more than 68 claims of abuse. According to, several more survivors joined the settlement before it was paid out.

2002 | Boston Archdiocese Pays $10 Million Settlement

In 2002, the Boston Archdiocese paid $10 million to 86 survivors of clergy abuse. The 86 claimants were alleged victims of the former Boston priest, John J. Geoghan. Geoghan’s widespread abuse was one of the main stories covered by The Boston Globe expose

2003 | Boston Archdiocese Pays $84.1 Million Settlement

In 2003, Boston’s Archbishop O’Malley announced an $84.1 million settlement. The settlement amount compensated 541 victims of priest abuse. Each claimant received between $80,000 and $300,000. 

2003 | Jesuit School Abuse Case Settles For $5.2 Million

In 2003, 14 survivors of the former Jesuit priest James F. Talbot received $5.2 million. The survivors were victims of school sexual abuse at two private Jesuit high schools where Talbot taught: Boston College High School and Cheverus High School in Maine.  

2008 | Springfield Diocese Pays $4.5 Million Settlement

In 2008, the Springfield Diocese paid $4.5 million to 59 sexual abuse survivors. In 2019, MassLive reported that since 1992, the Springfield Diocese paid a total of $14,948,001 to settle 147 claims.

2020 | Catholic Order Pays $1.4 Million Settlement

In February 2020, the Order of St. Augustine agreed to pay $1.4 million to 11 survivors of clergy abuse. The 11 survivors were all abused at St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, Massachusetts by the Jesuit priest John J. Gallagher.

Child Sex Abuse Statutes Of Limitations In Massachusetts

To take legal action against an abuser or responsible institution, a survivor must follow the applicable statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a legal deadline. 

Most states have different statutes for filing civil lawsuits and pressing criminal charges.

Civil Statutes For Child Sex Abuse In MA

In Massachusetts, survivors of child sexual abuse must file a civil claim before they reach the age of 53. 

This current statute was passed by Massachusetts lawmakers in 2014. Additionally, the lawmakers passed a retroactive discovery rule. 

Abuse survivors may file a claim anytime within 7 years after discovering an injury caused by the abuse. This discovery rule applies to cases where the statute is expired. This also applies to claims against a perpetrator or responsible institution.

You May Have Legal Rights

Speak With Our Lawyers About Massachusetts’ Statutes Today

Criminal Statutes For Child Sex Abuse In MA

In Massachusetts, there is no criminal statute for felony child sexual abuse claims. 

However, for cases in which the abuse took place more than 27 years ago, there needs to be corroborating or DNA evidence for the case to move forward.

What Is the Difference Between a Criminal Case and Civil Lawsuit?

If the abuser (defendant) is found guilty in a criminal case, they may face probation or time in prison. The victim (plaintiff) would only receive money if the court requires the defendant to pay restitution to the plaintiff.

If the abuser (defendant) is found liable in a civil case, they must pay a monetary award to the victim (plaintiff). The amount of the award is determined by the jury. The award covers any damages caused by the abuse.

List Of Catholic Priests Accused Of Abuse In Massachusetts

The list below includes the names of clergy members and priests accused of abuse in Massachusetts. It does not include other diocesan employees or volunteers accused of similar abuse claims. But, you may still be able to file a case against these individuals or the responsible diocese.

If you or a loved one suffered abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts, you may have legal rights. Our attorneys can help you determine your options.

Survivors May Be Eligible For Compensation

Learn About Filing a Claim in Massachusetts

There Are 281 Accused Clergy Members From The Archdiocese Of Boston, MA:

There are several reasons you may not be able to find the name you are searching for on our list of accused priests in Massachusetts.

  • The priest may be listed in another state or diocese.
  • Allegations against the priest may not have been investigated yet.

If you believe the priest you are searching for may be listed under another state or diocese, search our nationwide database of accused Catholic priests and clergy members.

However, you may still have legal options available, even if your abuser is not listed in our database. Speak with our experienced lawyers today to learn more about your legal options.

History Of Clergy Abuse In Massachusetts

Like many Catholic dioceses across the country, the Massachusetts dioceses have a long history of clergy abuse. But, the dioceses received national attention when The Boston Globe wrote an investigative series about priest abuse in Massachusetts.

The Boston Globe Exposes Clergy Abuse In Archdiocese

In 2002, The Boston Globe released a series of articles detailing widespread child sexual abuse by clergy members in the Boston Archdiocese. This was one of the first in-depth clergy abuse investigations published in American media. 

The abuse and coverups documented in the series shocked many Americans. But, the series also prompted many clergy abuse investigations across the country and reformed policies in the Catholic Church. 

The Boston Globe’s coverage led to several criminal convictions of abusive priests in Massachusetts. The coverage also inspired many more victims to come forward with their own allegations. This led to a greater number of lawsuits and convictions against abusive priests and responsible Catholic dioceses.

Read more about The Boston Globe’s clergy abuse series here >

2003 Clergy Abuse Investigation Of The Boston Archdiocese

In January 2002, the Massachusetts attorney general’s office launched an investigation of the Archdiocese of Boston. The investigation was focused on allegations of sexual abuse reported to the archdiocese and the archdiocese’s handling of the claims. 

In 2003, the investigation published a report of its findings. 

According to the report, the Boston Archdiocese received complaints of abuse from 789 victims over the course of six decades. The report noted this number is likely a low estimate of the total number of abuse cases. Many victims will never choose to come forward with their experiences. 

Additionally, the report detailed a pervasive culture of cover-ups in the archdiocese. 

“For at least six decades, three successive Archbishops, their Bishops and others in positions of authority within the Archdiocese operated with tragically misguided priorities. They chose to protect the image and reputation of their institution rather than the safety and well-being of the children entrusted to their care.”

The investigation found no recent cases of abuse in the Boston Archdiocese. Following the 16-month investigation, the Attorney General’s Office was unable to bring criminal charges against the Archdiocese or its senior leaders.

Massachusetts Clergy Abuse Victim Resources

If you were abused by a priest in the state of Massachusetts, you are not alone. There are local and statewide resources available to you. Learn more about Massachusetts resources for sexual violence victims here.

You may also have legal rights to file a clergy abuse lawsuit. Consult our legal team today to determine your options. 

Massachusetts Clergy Abuse FAQs

How Do I Report Sexual Abuse By A Priest In Massachusetts?

If you or a suspected victim is in danger, call 911 immediately. 

There are several options to report child sexual abuse to the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (DCF). 

  • During weekdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, call your local DCF office.  
  • During weekends, holidays or after hours, call the Child-at-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200.  

For more information about reporting child sexual abuse or sexual assault, visit our reporting page

You may also choose to report suspected priest abuse to the relevant diocese.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On Priest Sexual Abuse In Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, survivors of priest abuse may file a civil claim until their 53rd birthday. 

However, Massachusetts also has a retroactive discovery rule for cases of child sexual abuse. This discovery rule may give survivors more legal options. 

Learn more about Massachusetts child sexual abuse statutes here > 

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Ron Meneo, Managing Partner at Meneo Law Group.

Meneo Group managing partner: Ron Meneo

Ron Meneo is the managing partner of The Meneo Law Group. With more than 40 years of experience, he represents clients across the country on a variety of complex legal matters, including personal injury due to institutional sexual abuse, unsafe pharmaceutical drugs and other practice areas. He is a recipient of Martindale-Hubbell’s prestigious AV® Preeminent Rating. He has also served as an editor and contributor for several legal journals.

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