SPRINGFIELD -- A Williamstown man's civil lawsuit against two former bishops of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has been settled for $500,000, just three days after a nine-man jury trial began in Hampden County Superior Court in Springfield.
Andrew "Drew" Nicastro, 42, filed the lawsuit in Sept. 2009, asking that Most Rev. Joseph Maguire, bishop emeritus, and the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre be held accountable for the sexual abuse he allegedly endured from a priest who had a known history of molesting other boys.
Nicastro named the former Rev. Alfred Graves, who was pastor of St. Patrick's Church in Williamstown. He alleged that Graves, who has been named in numerous clergy sex abuse cases, molested him between 1982 to 1984, while he was serving as St. Patrick's pastor. The suit lodged charges of neglect against Maguire, who was bishop of the Diocese of Springfield at the time, and Dupre, who was chancellor and third-in-command at the time, stating that the pair had known of at least one charge of molestation before Graves was moved to Williamstown.
Graves was barred from presenting himself as priest in the 1990s and defrocked by the Vatican in 2006.
"This is very significant. Drew was very brave and courageous to come forward and to be willing to litigate this matter," Atty. John Stobierski, who represented Nicastro, said in a telephone interview with the Transcript on Friday. "Very few of these cases are tried
He said the settlement is one of the largest, if not the largest, awarded to a clergy sex abuse victim in Western Massa chusetts. A Boston judge awarded a total of $3 million to two sex abuse victims in Oct. 2011. In 2003, the Archdiocese of Boston settled cases brought forth by 552 victims for a total of $85 million.
Nicastro, a well-known local chef, did not immediately return calls made by the Transcript on Friday.
Stobierski said the settlement was offered Thursday night, following the testimony of Nicastro, his wife, Leigh Ann, and his father, Anthony, as well as another victim, who reported to Maguire in 1976 he was molested by Graves in the same year.
"The evidence in the trial was extremely emotional," he said, noting that it was made clear that if Nicastro were to win the trial, an appeal would be filed by the former bishops. It was also understood that if Nicastro was successful at the appeal, he would then have to sue the diocese's insurance company for the award, which would be another three- to five-year process.
"For Drew, it has never been about the money, but about accountability," Stobierski said. "This is a notable conclusion, especially for the Springfield Diocese. We do have a confirmed report back in the mid 1970s. They were aware that there were priests, Father Graves in particular, who had a predilection and they failed to properly supervise them, even after they became aware of it."
Maguire released a statement Friday afternoon, stating his regret for his past decisions.
"Today's settlement, I hope will bring some measure of healing to Andrew Nicastro and his family. Sadly they have suffered greatly by this terrible abuse," he wrote. "I am truly sorry for all that Mr. Nicastro suffered and the hardships it has brought in his life. I only wish that in 1976 as a new bishop, I could have foreseen the true nature of one who violated our trust with such devastating harm to his victims. I pray for these victims and their families, for their forgiveness and understanding."
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