February 12, 2022
A Vermont woman on Friday sued a convicted child-molester priest of molesting her when she was 11 and he was serving at St. Brendan Church in Dorchester.
The suit, filed in Suffolk Superior Court by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represented dozens of victims when the Boston pedophile-priest scandal first broke, also names Father W. James Nyhan's superior at the time in the Archdiocese of Boston for not just failing to stop Nyhan but for allegedly allowing the conduct in the first place.
In her suit, Kelly Story, who now lives in Vermont, charges Nyhan molested her after his return in 1980 from South Carolina - where he would later be convicted of molesting three boys - and was assigned to St. Brendan Parish on Gallivan Boulevard in Dorchester:
"In approximately 1980, when Plaintiff was about 11 years of age, Defendant Father Nyhan brought Plaintiff to a beach house at Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts.
"When Plaintiff was with Defendant Father Nyhan in the beach house at Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts, Defendant Father Nyhan engaged in explicit sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct with the minor Plaintiff, including, among other things, Defendant Father Nyhan putting his hand on Plaintiff's upper inner thigh and caressing Plaintiff's upper inner thigh, skin on skin, close to Plaintiff's genital area."
Story says it took her years to even recognize the cause of the "severe and permanent mental distress and emotional injuries" she has suffered ever since, which she said include depression, sleep problems, substance abuse and thoughts of suicide - and that she wonders if Nyhan did even worse to her, but she has blocked that out.
The complaint charges that Msgr. Frederick Ryan, who now lives in Iowa, shares part of the blame because he was responsible not just for placing Nyhan at St. Brendan but for overseeing his work there, including with "minor children," in particular with Story, with whom he allegedly had "a special relationship," and that he "knew or should have known Defendant Father Nyhan was of bad character and reputation and unfit to properly interact with minor children, including, more specifically, Plaintiff, and that Defendant Father Nyhan engaged or was engaging in the explictly sexual behavior and lewd and lascivious conduct with Plaintiff."
In addition to a legal declaration that Nyhan and Ryan were wrong, Story is seeking payment for the treatment she has had and will continue to receive, lost wages and other damages.
Nyhan, now in his mid-70s, pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges of molesting three altar boys in Charlestown, SC. in 1979 and 1980, when he was on leave from Boston and serving there as a visiting associate pastor in charge of altar boys at one church.
Nyhan admitted he had fondled three boys, all in seventh or eighth grade, either during "wrestling" matches in the rectory at Charleston's Church of the Nativity or at a local beach. In exchange for his guilty plea, a judge changed his 30-year sentence to five years of probation.
The Archdiocese of Boston, which had closed an investigation into the South Carolina incidents earlier, had placed him on leave in 2002 due to an investigation involving another incident, in the 1970s involving a boy when Nyhan was a priest at St. Ambrose Church in Dorchester - a period when he also served as chaplain in Dorchester juvenile court.
Following his conviction in 2006, the Vatican ordered him "dismissed from the clerical state" - or defrocked.
He now lives in Nevada.