Worcester woman sues ex-official, diocese over coerced sex allegations

Worcester woman sues ex-official, diocese over coerced sex allegations

NEW YORK — A woman who earlier this year accused a director of the Worcester Diocese of Soup Kitchen of forcing her and other vulnerable women to have sex has sued the now-former director for his alleged actions, as well as the diocesan guidance for alleged failure to address the complaint in a timely manner .

“This lawsuit reflects the wrongful acts of the defendants relating to their tortious activity and duty of care assigned to Bell and other like-minded individuals,” reads the lawsuit, filed Dec. 13 in Worcester Superior Court in Massachusetts .

“The defendants have engaged in an ongoing code of conduct to collectively abuse and ill-treat [plaintiff Nicole] Bell and others then conspired to avoid liability. “Based on the foregoing and the following allegations, Bell is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.”

Bell detailed her allegations against former St. John’s Catholic Church coordinator William Riley core in February, before filing a formal complaint with the Diocese of Worcester Victim Assistance Coordinator in March. As a result of the complaint, Riley was placed on administrative leave pending a diocesan inquiry led by a third party.

That report was released in July and Riley subsequently resigned from his position.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the Diocese of Worcester and Bishop Robert McManus, St. John’s Catholic Church and its pastor, Father John Madden, and Riley. The lawsuit identifies eight causes of action against all defendants, including two separate counts of negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil liability for sex trafficking and defamation.

That’s what Bell’s attorney, Beth Keeley, said core An email dated Dec. 20 said: “It became incumbent on this lawsuit to be filed to highlight the issues that the Diocese of Worcester has continued to fail to address.”

“The goal remains to promote accountability and understanding,” she said.

Ray Delisle, spokesman for the diocese, declined a core Request for comment, on the grounds that the diocese does not comment on active legal proceedings. It was first reported by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.

Bell’s allegations against Riley date back to the early 2010s. She alleges that from 2011 to 2014, when she was homeless and experiencing substance abuse, Riley used his position as soup kitchen manager to force vulnerable women to have sex.

Bell is currently the CEO of Living in Freedom Together, a Worcester-based organization that supports women exiting prostitution and works to end the sex trade.

Another woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity and feared retribution, described similar experiences core in March with Riley from 2014 to August 2021 when she got sober.

There were a total of three complaints against Riley in the diocese’s report of the investigation into Riley’s conduct. The report is 72 pages long, and because it’s heavily redacted, it’s unclear what he found. However, it found claims against Madden unjustified.

The allegations against Madden were that he was aware of or involved in Riley’s alleged conduct, that he himself was involved in inappropriate sexual conduct with vulnerable women who were in the community’s sober home, and that he manipulated witnesses by speaking paid money to someone who may be involved in the investigation.

Regarding Madden, the lawsuit alleges that “Riley’s conduct was sanctioned by the daily presence and surveillance of Madden, who allowed Riley to operate the feeding program in this manner and refused to act even when Madden informed of Riley’s conduct.” would.”

It also alleges that after the diocesan report was released in July, Madden’s lawyers sent Bell a cease and desist letter “alleging that she made false and baseless allegations” in order to “threaten and intimidate” Bell and others into not proceeding their claims.

Regarding McManus, the lawsuit alleges that he, alongside Madden, had “direct knowledge” of Bell’s allegations of abuse in January 2022 and “did not act to address or root out the allegations,” even though the formal complaint to the Diocese was about Rileys Behavior was made only in March.

The lawsuit also challenges the diocese’s choice of an independent investigator, Robert Hennigan, who says his ties to the diocese make it clear he was not an “impartial third party.”

“Having received information regarding Bell’s abuse and other similar complaints, the Diocese of Worcester and the Bishop were required to investigate and fully investigate this,” the lawsuit reads. “The accused did not act.”

Follow John Lavanburg on Twitter: @johnlavenburg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *