Retired Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre, 70, was accused of molesting two altar boys in the 1970s while he was a parish priest.  On March 4, 2004, a prosecutor said that he will pursue sex-abuse charges against him.  If a grand jury indicts him, he would become the first bishop charged in the sex scandal that engulfed the Roman Catholic church two years ago.  A lawyer for two men has said Dupre sexually abused them for years, beginning in the 1970s when the accusers were altar boys.  Attorney Roderick MacLeish, Jr. said Dupre asked the two to keep quiet about the abuse when he was made auxiliary bishop in 1990.

Yesterday morning, a grand jury indictment was unsealed charging Dupre with two counts of child rape based on the testimony of the two men.  But only hours later, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett said he would not prosecute the bishop because the statute of limitations had long since expired.

(Springfield, Massachusetts)