Defrocked Catholic priest killed altar boy in 1972: DA

A defrocked Roman Catholic priest implicated himself in the 1972 slaying of a Massachusetts altar boy earlier than dying at a hospital final week — saying he gave the boy a “good shove” earlier than he was found useless in a river, a prosecutor mentioned.

Richard R. Lavigne, lengthy thought of the one suspect in the homicide of 13-year-old Danny Croteau, advised a Massachusetts State Police trooper throughout a sequence of current interviews that he was the final individual to see the Springfield boy alive — when he introduced him to the financial institution of the Chicopee River.

In a press conference Monday, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni performed snippets of the interviews, the place Lavigne admitted that he assaulted the boy on the riverbank on April 14, 1972.

The priest later returned and located Danny floating face-down in the water, however didn’t attempt to save him or notify his mother and father or cops, the prosecutor mentioned.

Daniel Croteau.
Richard Lavigne mentioned he gave Danny Croteau a “good shove” however didn’t admit to killing the altar boy.
Hampden DA

Lavigne advised state police he gave the teenager a “good shove” alongside the banks of the river however his voice trailed off when requested why, the Boston Globe reported.

“I just remember being heartbroken when I saw his body … knowing I was responsible for giving him a good shove, you know?” Lavigne mentioned.

Gulluni mentioned he now thought of the 49-year-old chilly case slaying to be closed, though the disgraced priest didn’t admit to killing his former altar boy.

Lavigne died Friday at age 80, the identical day Gulluni mentioned his workplace was making ready to prosecute him for the teenager’s slaying.

The priest — who pleaded responsible in 1992 to sexually abusing kids and was later defrocked in 2003 — was a buddy of the Croteau household and was assigned to Saint Mary’s Parish in Springfield on the time, Gulluni mentioned.

“Danny’s parents, Carl and Bernice, told reporters that they just wanted answers,” the prosecutor mentioned in a press release saying the now-closed homicide probe.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni speaks in front of a projected image of defrocked Catholic priest Richard R. Lavigne.
Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni was making ready to prosecute Richard Lavigne the identical day the defrocked priest died.

“Based on the buildup of the historic proof gained in the final yr, and the admissions of Richard Lavigne, I consider we now have these solutions.

Lavigne was faraway from energetic ministry in 1991 amid prices that he sexually abused kids, the Globe reported. He pleaded responsible a yr later and was sentenced to 10 years of probation and ordered to bear sex-offender counseling, in line with the Associated Press.

The Springfield Diocese paid 17 of Lavigne’s victims $1.4 million in 1994 and an extra $7.7 million settlement to 46 victims in 2004, the Globe reported.

Carl and Bunny Croteau stand in front of a portrait of their murdered son, Danny.
Danny Croteau’s mother and father, Carl and Bernice, in 2008.

An legal professional for Danny’s late mother and father who has represented greater than 25 of Lavigne’s accusers mentioned regulation enforcement officers estimate the disgraced priest molested greater than 250 folks between the Sixties and Nineties.

“There’s a great injustice here,” legal professional John Stobierski advised the Globe. “This helps, but it has not told us why it happened and how the level of power kept it silent.”

Lavigne died at a hospital in Greenfield, in line with state data cited by the newspaper. The explanation for demise was acute hypoxic respiratory failure with COVID-19 pneumonia as an underlying trigger.

Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni speaks in front of a projected image of Danny Croteau.
The 49-year-old chilly case is now thought of closed.

William D. Byrne, bishop of the Springfield Diocese, mentioned information of Lavigne’s looming arrest served as “sad closure” to the decades-long unsolved case.

“I was angered and sickened to hear Lavigne’s unapologetic admissions in the heinous murder of this innocent child,” Bishop advised the Globe.

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