An abuser unafraid of the consequences

An abuser unafraid of the consequences

The Scandal continues in western Massachusetts with an investigation in Richard Lavigne, a priest who went to jail for molesting two brothers. The question being asked is when Diocese of Springfield leaders knew about Lavigne’s abuse. A confidant of the former bishop says the diocese knew back in the 60s. What makes this case even more disturbing is the still unsolved murder of an altar boy and suspicion that Lavigne may have been involved.

The affidavit paints Lavigne, a registered sex offender who now lives in Chicopee, as arrogant and unafraid of the questions being raised about his behavior. On one occasion in the 1970s, Lavigne told DeMontigny “his pastor had admonished him concerning boys in his bedroom,” according to the affidavit. “Lavigne was contemptuous of the pastor’s attempt to exert his authority over him. He said something to the effect that ‘they can’t do anything to me,’ and laughed about it,” the affidavit reads.

What would be the reason Lavigne could be so unafraid and confident that diocesan officials could do nothing to him? It’s almost like he had something held over their heads. Perhaps blackmail?

  • “Perhaps blackmail?”

    Forgive me for not gasping in shock but this isn’t exactly the first time this charge has been hinted at. I’ve got a folder filled with e-mail notes from folks absolutely certain that Cardinal Law was/is gay and therefore that pretty much explains why Shanley and Geoghan “got off so easy.” (“Easy?” Dying of strangulation? Well, never mind.)

    What you guys are saying—actually, Dom is hinting at it, but apparently you guys are actually saying it—is that the bishops have been blackmailed.

    Interesting. Rather a crock, in my opinion, but interesting.

    Not that I’d be shocked that a bishop would be blackmailed…far from it!

    But what I find interesting—pretty lame, actually—is that your “solution” is so damn easy.  (To say nothing of unimaginative.)

    Here’s an alert: Church hierarchy folks have been blackmailed since Judas accepted a bit o’ silver.  And anybody interested in, say, the Protestant Reformation, knows that this isn’t what you’d call a rare thing.

    What I’m getting from all this is that you folks seem to be under the impression that by saying “aha! they were blackmailed!” you’ve somehow identified the problem.

    I don’t think you have.

    Guys? It just ain’t that easy.

  • No. Just identifying it as blackmail is the easy part. The hard part is determining what they are being blackmailed for and then doing something about that.

    Of course, some people have been saying for a long time that certain bishops had very good reasons not to expose certain “wayward” clergy, if not for their own sakes then perhaps to avoid exposing something someone else did, smearing them by association.

    I don’t know why you so quickly dismiss blackmail as a possibility. Or its importance. Murder is as old as the human race, too, but if that were at the root of certain parts of the Scandal, I wouldn’t overlook it.

  • Hey, I’m not “dismissing” blackmail, nor its significance! Far from it!

    (I’m not dismissing murder either, for that matter.)

    What I was questioning last night was the simplification of the thing as in “the blackmail theory.” What I probably should’ve added was what Dom wrote:

    “The hard part is determining what they are being blackmailed for and then doing something about that. “

    Tom, while writing his post, brought up another theory, by the way…the notion that Lavigne is simply nonchalant about his faith in the Church. I find that plausible, too.

    (Long as I’m here…one thing, Tom? Cardinal Medieros actually removed Father Shanley from his “ministry” to homosexual people…an act that won him a verbal thrashing from the Boston Globe and others. He also got dissed big time for taking what is now Saint Clement’s Eucharistic Shrine away from the “Catholic” group known as “Dignity.”)

    Anyway, I hope this clarifies what I posted last night. Sorry to be so late with it, but you know what interplanetary travel can be like. wink

  • RC,

    You’d be surprised. There are plenty of those who wouldn’t want disturbing information about their predecessors to be made public, especially if it would tarnish their memories.

    Kelly and Tom,
    I will agree that it could be nonchalance about faith. When you’ve discarded the moral code and re-defined sin as personal choice, then anything is possible.

    Plus you have to take into account the fact that child molesters sometimes have a disconnect with their own behavior.

    A friend recounted an experience at one of these “treatment centers” that the perverts were sent to. He said that the child abusers would watch TV and when a young man or boy would appear on TV they would stamp their feet in glee. They would also confide that they were there because they “played with little boys” and were shocked that the authorities thought it was problem. Disgusting and disturbing.