Diocese to release report on sexual abuse claims against late bishop on Wednesday

  • Retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis SUBMITTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/23/2020 12:46:41 PM

SPRINGFIELD — Details of an investigation into sexual abuse claims made against late Springfield Catholic Bishop Christopher J. Weldon will be released Wednesday afternoon.

Retired Judge Peter A. Velis this week delivers to the Diocese of Springfield his report, which not only documents the claims made against Weldon, some of which date to the early 1960s, but how the diocese handled the complaint and opportunities for improving how future abuse allegations are addressed.

The full report will be released Wednesday at 2 p.m. on the diocesan website www.diospringfield.org.

At that same time, Velis and Archbishop-designate Mitchell T. Rozanski will hold a press conference at the Bishop Marshall Center, located behind St. Michael’s Cathedral to respond to the report and answer questions.

In June 2019, the diocese filed an initial report of a claim of abuse by Weldon with the Hampden County district attorney’s office, coming after Rozanski heard directly from a Chicopee man who says Weldon was one of several clergy in the diocese who sexually abused him in the early 1960s, when he was 9 or 10.

Velis was appointed after officials learned that procedures from the Vatican by Pope Francis, aimed at handling allegations of misconduct against bishops, would not apply to those who have already died. Velis retired as a Superior Court judge in 2012 after 14 years on the bench, overseeing trials in all four western Massachusetts counties as well as in Barnstable County.

Retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford, who is chairing the diocesan Independent Task Force on the response to sexual abuse in the Diocese of Springfield, will also be present Wednesday.

That task force, created in May, is expected to make recommendations focused on improving the diocese’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct made against those in the local church.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.
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