Victims, not clergy should be focus in abuse cases
Written by Melissa Grima
BERLIN — A local man with a claim of abuse pending against the Diocese of Manchester hopes that telling his story will help bring the focus of the church sex abuse scandal onto the victims rather than the abusers.
Frank Laferrier, a Berlin resident who grew up on the Seacoast, said he was raped by a priest as a young teen in Durham as he sought refuge at St. Thomas More Parish after running away from an abusive foster home. Laferrier said that although he has a claim pending with the diocese, he is coming forward to tell his story publicly because he believes Catholics “really need to see what was done to the victims.”
“I think if someone like me tells them what I went through, they would understand what the victims went through,” Laferrier said.
Careful to point out that he does not blame all Roman Catholics for the abuse he sustained, only the priest who did it, Laferrier said he recognizes that not all priests and parish leaders are like this. “I’ve met some really good people,” he said.
He added that he is not trying to destroy the church or attack anyone’s beliefs, but he does want those who abused children or hid the abuse to pay for their crimes.
“What the priest did to me that night, he took my heart, my soul, my body and my mind.”
According to Laferrier, on the night in question, he was brought to the church for a single night after running away. Alone with the priest, he was raped. As the priest raped him, Laferrier alleges, he was told it was punishment for his sins — the sin of disobeying his mother and father. Additionally, he claims, the priest told him if he told anyone what had happened he would spend an eternity burning in hell.
His upbringing in the faith and attendance at Catholic school made certain that he took those words to heart, he said, and as a result he held on to the secret until last year.
In September of 2011, Laferrier said, he took his case to the diocese and has since retained the services of attorney Peter Hutchins of Manchester, a personal injury attorney with extensive experience in clergy abuse cases.’
Hutchins, who said he has handled about 200 clergy abuse cases since 2002, said Laferrier’s claim is going through the process with the church but still has a ways to go. The case is currently in the investigation phase, Hutchins confirmed. He explained that claims of abuse go to the church, which then coordinates an informal interview with alleged victim and a diocese investigator. The investigator then prepares a report determining if claim is credible and the diocese moves from there.
Though Laferrier has brought his allegations to the diocese, he has not yet been scheduled for the informal interview with the investigator. Hutchins said he expects that move to come within the next few months.
After that, Hutchins said, the case can take 12-15 months before any settlement might be offered if the claim is found to be credible by the diocese. He noted that the church takes the cases as they come, but “there are certain financial realities with a small diocese especially one that has already paid out a couple hundred claims.”
The settlement process is the first course of action, Hutchins said, and his clients always have the right to pursue legal action in court if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the initial settlement attempts.
Laferrier said is looking for a financial settlement and an apology.
Though it has been many years since the original church abuse scandal broke in 2002, Laferrier pointed to continued comments from high-profile Catholics like Cardinal Timothy Dolan (Archdiocese of NY) and Catholic League president Bill Donohue and even Pope Benedict himself, as part of the reason he has become so outspoken.
“Frank’s an individual who is very involved in following these church related matters,” Hutchins said. He takes issues with many of the comments made by these men on his blog Rape Victims of the Catholic Church (all one word) on WordPress. In his blog, which is a blend of news links and vitriolic tirades, Laferrier takes issue with stories relating to the Catholic Church on a fairly regular basis.
Hutchins added that Frank is not alone in waiting to make his claim of abuse. “A lot of people, they come forward at different random times for whatever reason,” he said. He noted that 2002-03 —when the issue was in the news — saw the most people come forward. Even now, though, his law firm averages one call every 4-6 weeks and he currently has 6-8 pending clergy abuse cases.
Posted on August 9, 2012, in Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Pedophile, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse, St Thomas More, St Thomas More Durham NH, St Thomas More Parish and tagged abuse, Berlin Daily Sun, child abuse, child molestation, Frank J LaFerriere, Frank Laferriere, Peter Hutchins, St Thomas More, St Thomas More Durham NH, St Thomas More Parish. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.