The Associated Press State & Local Wire

May 7, 2002, Tuesday, BC cycle

Massachusetts lawsuits accuse priest of abuse in Mass., N.H.

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 509 words


Eight new lawsuits accuse a Roman Catholic priest and two other men of sexually molesting residents of a home for youth offenders, both at the home in Littleton and at the priest’s cottage in Barnstead, N.H.
The Rev. Bernard Lane is accused of abusing eight youths during the 1970s, when he ran Alpha Omega House, which he founded.
Lane was named in seven lawsuits. A separate suit filed by two of his accusers says they also were molested by the Rev. Melvin Surette, who succeeded Lane at Alpha Omega, and Dr. Scott Ward, a former psychiatrist at the home who now lives in Philadelphia.
The Boston Globe said neither Lane nor his attorney could be reached for comment. Ward and Surette also could not be reached.
The lawsuits, filed in Suffolk County Superior Court by lawyer Nance Lyons, allege that most of the abuse, including group nudity and inappropriate physical and sexual contact, took place in Barnstead.
The New Hampshire cottage served as a retreat for youngsters in the program who were being rewarded for good behavior, Lyons said.
The Boston Archdiocese previously has settled at least six sex abuse cases involving Lane, including allegations that he raped residents of Alpha Omega. Lane has denied those allegations through his lawyer.
After his tenure at Alpha Omega House, Ward, the psychiatrist, faced unrelated criminal charges in Philadelphia for allegedly abusing a teen-age boy. Lyons said Ward called one of the boys he allegedly abused in Massachusetts to ask if he would appear as a character witness at the trial.
All but one of the victims chose to remain anonymous in their lawsuits.
David Lemieux, 40, of Leominster, said he never told anyone about being abused by Lane until six weeks ago, when his father read about the priest.
“My father showed me a newspaper article and asked me if I was a victim as well,” Lemieux said Tuesday.
Lemieux said it was common knowledge among the boys at Alpha Omega that Lane was sexually molesting some of them, but they never spoke of it among themselves.
Lemieux didn’t tell anyone about the abuse due to shame and a misguided sense of loyalty, he said.
“He became like a father figure to me and I didn’t want to betray that trust,” he said.
Lemieux is married now and has three children, but for a long time he struggled with drug addiction, alcoholism and questions about his own sexuality, he said.
“I want to see Father Lane pay for what he’s done to myself and scores of other young men,” he said. “I lost a good portion of my life because of what happened.”
In March, a former state Department of Youth Services worker said his team went to conduct a routine inspection of Alpha Omega House in 1975 or 1976, but Lane refused to admit them. Scott Surrey said his supervisor at the time refused to order Lane to submit to an inspection, even though Alpha Omega’s contract with the agency required it.
In 1978, DYS received an allegation of abuse by Lane. By the end of the year, Lane had been reassigned to St. Peter’s parish in Lowell.