Catholic priest only suspect in murder of child (who he raped)

(Source: Boston Globe, Father Richard Lavigne only suspect in murder of 13 year old Danny Croteau, who he raped)

In Springfield, an hour from where the Boston Globe found 271 pedophile priests, as shown in the movie “spotlight”, Father Lavigne is the only suspect in the murder of a 13-year-old boy named Danny Croteau, who the priest had been raping regularly. He was also raping dozens of other children.

Disturbing facts about the case, from the article:

  • Police say, `We know who it is,’ but they can’t charge him,” Carl says. While police and prosecutors long ago assembled a circumstantial case against Lavigne, the lack of physical evidence and of witnesses placing him with Danny the night of the murder have made authorities reluctant to charge him.
  •  the Diocese of Springfield knew Lavigne was a suspect, and knew of sexual abuse complaints against him, and yet allowed him access as a priest to children for 20 years after the murder.
  • according to police who have investigated him and the nearly 40 people who have filed lawsuits against him,  Lavigne abused scores of children.
    • In 1992 he was convicted of fondling two boys and sentenced to probation.
    • In 1994 the diocese paid $1.4 million to settle claims brought by 17 people who said Lavigne abused them, and Lavigne now faces another 20 claims.
    • The Massachusetts Sex Offenders Registry Board classified Lavigne as a Level 3 offender, meaning he is deemed a high risk to reoffend.
  • on the night of the murder, Father Lavigne asked the police 2 questions that police considered incriminating:
    • “If a stone was used and thrown in the river, would the blood still be on it?”
      • How could the priest have known to ask, investigators wondered. There had been, to that point, no public disclosure about how Danny had been killed. It would be several weeks, in fact, before police told the Croteaus that, based on the wounds, they believed Danny had been killed by a left-handed assailant wielding a stone. Lavigne is left-handed.
    • “In such a popular hangout with so many cars and footprints,” the priest wondered, “how can the prints you have be of any help?”
  • A priest named Father Barnabas wept loudly at the funeral, but didn’t know the victim or anyone else.  Investigators Mitchell and Fitzgibbon believed that Father Barnabas was Lavigne’s confessor.

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