SPRINGFIELD -- The president of the communications office of the Springfield Diocese has resigned after being accused of sexual misconduct, the latest episode in a scandal that has shocked Western Massachusetts Catholics.
The allegations against Michael Graziano, head of the diocese's Catholic Communications Corporation, date from 1985. Laura Failla Reilly, victim advocate for the diocese, would not give any details of the accusations or the alleged victim.
Graziano, who is not a priest, resigned Monday, citing personal and family reasons. He was in charge of the church's newspaper, online news services, and broadcast programs, including a weekly televised Mass, but had no ministerial or clerical duties, Reilly said.
Reilly said church officials had no reason to suspect Graziano of inappropriate behavior before the complaint was made.
"We received the complaint three weeks ago about a single incident in 1985 of sexual misconduct," Reilly said. "The victim acknowledges never having brought this forward before."
She said the matter was turned over to the district attorney's office, which will decide whether to pursue criminal charges. Hampden District Attorney William Bennett said he is reviewing the allegations.
Graziano, a former spokesman for the diocese who often fielded questions about priests accused of sexual abuse, has overseen the communications ministry for the church since 1982.
He did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. A statement issued yesterday by the diocese said Graziano "made no admission with regard to the allegation, but stated his wish that the diocese's recent forward momentum not be sidetracked."
The Springfield Diocese has tried settling complaints made by 15 people who say they were molested by defrocked priest Richard Lavigne. Lawyers for both sides last met about six weeks ago, and Bishop Timothy McDonnell met with a mediator working on the cases in late March.
McDonnell took over the Springfield Diocese earlier this month, weeks after Bishop Thomas Dupre resigned after being confronted by The Republican newspaper with allegations that he molested two boys in the 1970s.