BOSTON, Massachusetts — A man who says he was sexually assaulted as a child by a Catholic monk in Massachusetts has filed a lawsuit accusing a priest of trying to conceal the abuse and refusing to help pay for his mental health treatment.
The man said in the lawsuit filed on Tuesday that he was raped by Brother Joseph Martin while he worked at Saint Benedict Abbey in Harvard, Massachusetts in the 1970s.
The lawsuit says Abbot Francis Xavier Connelly knew Martin admitted to police in 2013 that he had engaged in inappropriate acts, but didn’t tell the man about Martin’s admission while Martin was alive. It also accuses Connelly of reversing course after initially agreeing to pay for the treatment for the man, who was suicidal.
“He promised to help me and then kind of yanked the rug out from underneath me,” the man told reporters on Wednesday. The man is not identified in the lawsuit and The Associated Press does not identify people who say they’re victims of sexual assault unless they grant permission.
Neither the abbey nor its congregation immediately returned voicemails or emails seeking comment.
The man said memories of the abuse that he had suppressed for years resurfaced in 2013 and sent his personal and work life crashing down. He said he lost his job and family, wound up living in his car and wanted to end his life.
When the man reached out to the abbey last year, Connelly said they would help with his medical expenses, the lawsuit says. But Connelly later withdrew the offer because the man needed hospitalization and it was too expensive, said the man’s lawyer, Carmen Durso.
The man said he didn’t know police in Harvard were looking into the abuse because he never connected with investigators who tried contacting him when his life was falling apart. Police were tipped off to the allegations by a monsignor in California whom the man had confided in. Martin died in 2015.
Connelly told police in 2013 that he “never personally experienced any inappropriate behavior” at the abbey and that Martin was “not known as a negative figure in the church.” Connelly said it was the first allegation of misconduct made against anyone at the abbey.
The lawsuit was filed on the same day The Boston Globe reported that the Order of Saint Augustine had agreed to pay $1 million to eight people who say they were sexually abused in Massachusetts.