Acushnet Man Accuses Former New Bedford Priest of Sexual Abuse
ACUSHNET — An Acushnet man and former altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua parish is suing a former New Bedford priest for alleged sexual abuse he says took place over three decades ago.
In a lawsuit filed in Bristol Superior Court in late July, Jason Medeiros alleges that Father Richard Degagne sexually abused him on multiple occasions.
The alleged abuse took place in or around New Bedford and while on an overnight trip to Maine in 1988, when Medeiros was 12 years old.
Father Richard Degagne is one of three priests the Fall River Diocese agreed in December were "credibly accused" of child abuse.
The Diocese said at the time that Degagne was suspended in 2019 and would not be returning to ministry, although the former priest denied the allegations.
Degagne, who was ordained in 1982 and is in his late 60s, was affiliated with St. Anthony of Padua Parish in New Bedford from around 1986 to 1991, according to the complaint.
He had previously worked in Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford, Taunton, and East Freetown before he was removed from ministry, and now lives in Brownfield, Maine.
Medeiros is a former student at St. Anthony of Padua School, a former parish altar boy, and a former Catholic youth group member.
The complaint alleges that Degagne sexually abused Medeiros on multiple occasions in the rectory and in Degagne's car when Medeiros was 12-13 years old in the late 1980s.
In or around 1988, the lawsuit alleges, Degagne also brought the 12-year-old Medeiros on an overnight trip to Maine, where he allegedly abused him.
The abuse has resulted in Medeiros suffering from "severe and permanent mental distress and emotional injuries," the complaint notes.
"This civil complaint indicates the moral failure of Bishop Daniel A. Cronin, who was Bishop at the time of the alleged sexual abuse, and the Diocese of Fall River to protect an innocent child," Medeiros' attorney Mitchell Garabedian wrote in a statement.
Garabedian added, "The Plaintiff is showing tremendous courage by coming forward and confronting the evils of clergy sexual abuse."
No response from Degagne has yet been filed.