Therapist uncovers two betrayals in Springfield diocese’s response to client

For the past 14 years, a Northampton therapist has been helping a client, Nancy A. Dunn of Eastampton, cope with the aftermath of a year-long sexual relationship with a pastor. impact.

In 2020, seeking more answers, Dunn reconnected with the Diocese of Springfield. A misconduct commission upheld her claim 23 years ago that parish priest the Reverend Warren Savage seduced her into a sexual relationship.

Before 2020, treatment focused on the past.

According to Dunn and her therapist Nancy Knutson, a major topic in counseling since then has been pain over the diocese’s response to her requests for information.

Knutson, a psychotherapist at the New England Institute for Couples and Families, said there were two betrayals here, one by Warren Savage and the other by the church itself in its handling of the matter, both in The first time it happens is now.

The two women said Dunn faced delays, mixed messages and broken promises.

  • read more: Will adult victims of clergy abuse see a new day?

“What they’re doing feels like 1997 all over again to me,” Dunn said in an interview.

The diocese expressed a good-faith effort to respond to Duns’ request.

However, Dunn felt she encountered a bureaucracy that tested her emotionally. She said, I have been through three years of hell. The bishop could have said, Nancy, this is what the committee recommended in 1997. We are discussing it now.

After the diocese agreed to reopen the investigation into Savage, Dunn said she was told by Jeffrey Tranter, director of the Office of Safe Environments and Victim Assistance, and other diocese officials that she would receive a copy of the findings.

Then she learned she would only get an edited copy. Then, in April, Tranter’s successor told her that church policy restricted her from accepting any reports.

Another setback for Dunn came when she learned that despite two other visits to the diocesan review board to hear cases of alleged misconduct, the board had refused to advise top priest William Byrne on other actions the bishop might take. D. Byrne) for any suggestions.

Dunn claimed that Tranter told her that although she had reached a financial settlement with the diocese in May 2022, she could present her case to the review board. She later learned that the review board was taking no action after a settlement was reached with the survivors.

She credits Tranter with digging into church records to help her understand what actions Savage took after he was removed from active ministry in 1997. But in the process, she learned that former Bishop Thomas Dupre had fabricated the facts. A memo stated that Dunn had no objection to Savage returning to the priesthood.

When Savage was taken from North Adams, Dunn said the diocese told her it needed her approval for the priest to return to church services.

Dunn said he had been authorized to continue in ministry for 30 years, thinking I gave him permission. I never allowed him to return to ministry.

The diocese appears to have responded to some but not all of Duns’ requests over the past three years, according to emails reviewed by The Republican.

In early 2021, Tranter provided detailed answers to a series of her questions. On May 13, under the direction of Burns, the Rev. John G. Lessard, diocesan justice promoter, provided an 11-point summary addressing questions about the status of savages.

  • read more: The Long Tail of Clergy Misconduct Cases: Nancy Dunn v. Diocese of Springfield

Lessard’s email clarified that Savage’s current tenure at the Interfaith Center at Westfield State University, where he has been receiving treatment since 1999, will be his last and that he will not be requesting these services from anyone. Women served provide one-on-one spiritual guidance or counseling.

I pray that this information will help you reach conclusions and find peace of soul, he wrote.

Savage declined to comment publicly on the matter.

In response to questions, diocese media relations manager Carolee McGrath said that after Byrne joined the diocese in 2020, he was told that Dunn was unhappy with the way her case was resolved.

McGrath said the bishop asked Trant to conduct a comprehensive review and alert Westfield State leaders. The Review Committee again discussed the matter and determined that all appropriate actions had been taken and made no additional recommendations.

One of the first issues Dunn raised with the diocese was the public disclosure of Savage’s misconduct. “I saw that his name was not on the list of priests with credible accusations,” she said.

The diocese lists only one former priest, Eugene Honan, who was removed from ministry in 2010 after being found guilty of drugging and sexually abusing an adult man. Another list included clergy members found to have abused minors.

McGrath said the diocese does not believe Savage acted inappropriately enough to warrant placing him on the list. She said the issues surrounding Eugene Honan involved a range of different situations in which survivors were considered vulnerable.

Speaking of Dunn, McGrath said: The man was not considered vulnerable.

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