Three brothers allege sexual abuse at Saint John’s in mid-1960s


Three brothers allege sexual abuse at Saint John’s in mid-1960s
Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., stands in front of Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – Three brothers, two of whom attended Saint John’s High School in the mid-1960s, are alleging that Saint John’s religion teacher Richard “Dick” Doyle sexually abused them while they were minors.

On Jan. 3, Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., the co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, Inc. – a New Jersey-based nonprofit that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families – spoke to reporters across the street from Saint John’s. Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing the brothers, joined the press conference virtually. 

“Richard Doyle knew no bounds,” said Garabedian. “Where were the Xaverian Brothers, and why didn’t they protect these innocent children from a sexual predator?”

During the press conference, two of the brothers – who chose to remain anonymous – detailed their experience while at Saint John’s High School. Each brother was sexually abused repeatedly; one brother reported being abused 25-plus times. The children were 16, 15, and 9 years old at the time of the abuse, and some of Doyle’s abuse occurred inside the family home. 

Doyle “worked his way into [their] family,” according to the brothers. The victims described how Doyle aimed to “groom [them] into thinking [he] was [their] friend.” The abuse started as Doyle asking to kiss the children’s cheeks after driving them home. Then, the abuse became even more “egregious.” 

The abuse went on for about two years. The brothers would see Doyle, one of their teachers, at school everyday. One brother mentioned that after the abuse, they “didn’t want to go back” to the school. 

One of the brothers described how he deals with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, sleep disturbance issues and anxiety. 

“I just buried all this, what happened to me,” one of the brothers said. 

In 2019, Saint John’s officials released the names of clergy members who had been accused of sexual abuse. The brother said he contacted Headmaster Alex Zequeira and asked whether there had been a complaint filed against Doyle.

According to the press conference, Zequeira sent an email back that “apologize[d] for what he had to go through,” directing the two brothers to law enforcement. 

The brother soon contacted the District Attorney’s office, but discovered the statute of limitations had passed, and that the abuse was no longer able to be brought to court. The brother then reached out to Garabedian, who agreed to represent him. 

Yet, Garabedian and the brothers are not satisfied with Zequeira’s apology.

Three brothers allege sexual abuse at Saint John’s in mid-1960s
Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., stands in front of Saint John’s High School in Shrewsbury. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

“The school has been telling me… for the past year or so, that they’re looking into it, but there has been no results. When I say ‘year or so,’ I really mean the last two years,” said Garabedian. “Any apology by the headmaster rings hollow given that there’s been no decisiveness with regard to this matter over the years.”

The brothers, now in their 70s, agree that they “want some validation” from Saint John’s, which may, as Garabedian noted, include another apology, recognition and/or financial settlement. One brother said that Saint John’s showed “total disregard for myself and my brother.”

“I think there is something to settle here,” he said. 

In an official statement dated Jan. 2, Road to Recovery said the brothers are being “ignored” by Saint John’s, and that the school must help them “gain a degree of closure.”  

“I cannot stress enough my admiration for these three men, these three brothers, whose household must have been turned upside down by this perpetrator… I know these men who are coming forward have had very difficult lives… and clergy sexual abuse, as you know, is something that is called ‘soul murder.’ So, these men, trying to get back their lives, trying to heal, trying to gain some degree of closure, and once again, the Catholic Church – in the name of the Xaverian Brothers and Saint John’s High School – are getting in the way. Unfortunately, this has been the pattern,” Hoatson said on Jan 3. 

The brothers are also hoping to help prevent future sexual abuse. 

Garabedian hopes the state’s laws may be changed so victims can get justice. 

“This case is another example of why the statute of limitations in Massachusetts needs to be changed so that childhood sexual abuse survivors can file civil actions in courts of law so that justice can be obtained and so they can try to heal and gain a degree of validation,” said Garabedian. 

In a statement, Saint John’s said they were made aware of a “potential lawsuit” involving a former faculty member. 

“The school takes any allegation like this, regardless of when it occurred, very seriously and will continue to be transparent and forthcoming as we have been in the past. Saint John’s High School has policies, procedures, and training that reflect best practices to ensure student and school safety.  We are currently assessing the situation and will address it in accordance with the appropriate legal processes,” the statement reads in part. 

Laura Hayes contributed to this report.

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