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Franciscan brother arraigned
on sexual assault charges
By Associated Press, 08/15/02
Brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, 75, pleaded innocent to two counts of rape and abuse of a child, four counts of assault of a child with intent to rape, and five counts of indecent assault and battery on a person under age 14.
Prosecutors allege that DeBerardinis raped, attempted to rape, or fondled the boys, ages 8 to 13, inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Boston and in the church's rectory on various occasions between 1968 and 1973.
DeBerardinis left the parish in 1973, and went on to serve in various posts in the United States, Canada and South America, as well as in Jerusalem. He currently lives in a home for retired Franciscans in Clearwater Beach, Fla.
He was arrested Wednesday while visiting his sister in Lowell.
His lawyer, Anthony Annino III, asked Suffolk Superior Court clerk magistrate Gary Wilson to release DeBerardinis on a promise to appear for trial. Prosecutors asked that he be ordered to remain in Massachusetts while the case is pending.
Wilson ordered him held on $10,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. He said he would consider releasing DeBerardinis on personal recognizance if he could prove that he has a place to live in Massachusetts while the case makes its way through the legal system. A bail hearing is scheduled for Aug. 22.
Annino did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
The state's current statute of limitations for child rape is 15 years from the time the crime was reported to authorities, or from the alleged victim's 16th birthday.
But prosecutors were able to charge DeBerardinis because the clock stops running on the statute of limitations when the suspect is out of state.
DeBerardinis, who has been a Franciscan for 40 years, is not a priest and was never under the supervision of the Boston Archdiocese. He was assigned to the Boston church and was under the supervision of his order.