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Spotlight Report

Boston bishop is named in lawsuit

Ex-student says he was forced out

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 11/22/2002

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Emilio S. Allue, during his years running a seminary for Catholic teenagers in New York, expelled a high school student who had reported being sexually molested by a Catholic brother at the school, according to a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court.

Joseph Lemme, the former high school student, said in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit that he complained of the alleged abuse in 1972, but that Allue never encouraged him to report his allegation to civil authorities or higher church officials, and instead told him he was not ''priest material.''

''I literally begged Allue to allow me to stay at the seminary, but he just kept shaking his head and saying that I should leave,'' Lemme, who is now the principal of a Catholic high school, said in the affidavit.

''I recognize now that removing me from the seminary was an intentional act that would [ensure] that the assaults on me would not be investigated. If I were removed from the seminary, the seminary would have no further duty to protect me.''

Allue denies the assertions that Lemme has made about him, according to an attorney for the Salesians of Don Bosco, the Catholic order that ran the now-defunct school.

''Bishop Allue denies asking Joseph Lemme to leave the junior seminary and telling him that he was not `priest material,''' attorney Richard A. Beran said this week.

Beran declined to answer questions about whether Allue knew when he ran the school that Lemme and three other junior seminarians had said they were molested at the school. Those allegations are being investigated by the Manhattan and Westchester County district attorneys, according to Beran and Marcia Goffin, an attorney for Lemme. Allue did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Allue, who is a member of the Salesian order, is not a defendant, but he is named in the lawsuit that Lemme and the three other former seminarians filed in September against the Salesian order, four priests, and a former Salesian brother. The lawsuit was first reported in a suburban New York newspaper, The Journal News.

The Salesian order is attempting to have the lawsuit dismissed, contending that the allegations fall outside New York's statute of limitations.

Allue, 67, is a regional bishop of the Boston Archdiocese who oversees parishes in the Merrimack Valley. He was director of the Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, N.Y., for three academic years, from 1972-1975.

The school has since closed, but it was, at the time, one of more than 50 Catholic minor seminaries in the country, many of them boarding schools, run by local dioceses and religious orders for high school students. Most of the schools failed because of declining enrollment, but there have also been allegations that at some of the schools, students were molested by priests and brothers.

In August, for example, the Globe reported the allegations of four men who said they were sexually molested by five members of the Stigmatine Fathers during the late 1950s and early 1960s, while the men were attending a high school seminary on the Wellesley-Dover line that was run by the order.

Lemme, in the lawsuit, said he was a 13-year-old who knew nothing about sex when he entered the Salesian Junior Seminary as a freshman in 1970. Soon after he arrived, George Puello, then a Catholic brother in the Salesian order who worked as a Spanish teacher and dormitory supervisor, began to molest him, and did so repeatedly for more than two years, often in Lemme's dormitory bed, according to the lawsuit.

Lemme said Puello did not return to the seminary the following year but maintained contact with him and continued to molest him, taking him to motels on at least 10 occasions.

In the lawsuit, Puello is also accused of molesting two of the other three plaintiffs.

Allue did not become director of the seminary until 1972, according to the legal documents, but learned of Puello's alleged abuse after Lemme told a visiting Salesian, the Reverend Clement Cardillo.

''I later learned that Cardillo had shared this information with Father Allue, who was director of the seminary, beginning in 1972,'' Lemme said in his affidavit. ''In a meeting with me, shortly after I had informed Cardillo of the assaults, Allue informed me that I was not `priest material.'''

Lemme, who is principal of Holy Cross High School in Delran, N.J., said in the lawsuit that Allue, after expelling him from the junior seminary, also complained to officials at Don Bosco College in Newton, N.J. That school had accepted Lemme into a program for aspiring priests.

''Father Allue, who removed me from the Junior Seminary two years prior, was disturbed that I had been accepted into the program at Don Bosco,'' Lemme said in his affidavit. Lemme was allowed to complete the program, according to Goffin, but did not become a priest.

Lemme, through Goffin, refused requests for an interview. Attempts to reach Puello were unsuccessful, and Cardillo declined to discuss the issue.

Allue, a native of Spain, was elevated to bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1996, when Allue was a priest in New York City. He arrived in Boston later that year to help Cardinal Bernard F. Law minister to the growing Spanish-speaking population in the Archdiocese.

Allue attracted little public notice until September, when he ordered a North Andover parish to bar a chapter of the lay group Voice of the Faithful from meeting on church property. After an outcry, Law overruled Allue, citing his own ''lack of clarity'' in communicating to clergy his desire that the several dozen Voice of the Faithful chapters already in existence not be interfered with.

Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.com.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 11/22/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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