The Recorder – Regional Notebook: Dec. 16, 2022

Published: 2022-12-15 15:35:42

Modified: 2022-12-15 15:35:12

Charest appointed interim director of the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance

SPRINGFIELD — Bishop William Byrne of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield has appointed Norman Charest as interim director of the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Support.

Charest, previously an investigator for the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, assumed his new role on December 1. Former director Jeffrey Trant announced his resignation in October after being appointed executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, effective February 1, 2023.

On making this appointment, Byrne thanked Charest for accepting the interim position.

“It is important that the progress we have made under the tenure of Dr. Trant will not be impacted during this transition while we conduct a nationwide search for a new director,” Byrne said in a statement. “I am very grateful to Mr. Charest for agreeing to lead the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance, providing important continuity in the coming months.”

Charest is a 37-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department, retiring as a second lieutenant. He holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Western New England College (now Western New England University). As a detective, detective sergeant and detective lieutenant, he was responsible for the special unit for victims. Charest has years of experience investigating child abuse and sex crimes.

“I am honored to accept the position as interim director of the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance for the Diocese of Springfield,” Charest said in a statement. “The work done in this office is so important to the victims/survivors and their families and I will continue the work already started by the diocese.”

The diocese issues a quarterly report on the list of clergymen credibly accused

SPRINGFIELD – As part of its continued commitment to providing regular communications on efforts to maintain a safe environment, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield recently released a quarterly report on updates to the online list, “Determining the Credibility of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.”

During the last quarter there was another credible allegation against the late Father Thomas O’Connor, whose full allegation can be found at

An allegation found to be credible does not constitute a finding of guilt, and since he was deceased when the allegation was made, O’Connor was unable to respond to that allegation. Nonetheless, the review board carefully examined this claim, including a report issued by the diocese investigative team, and found this claim to be credible.

The Diocese encourages anyone with information of wrongdoing to report it directly to law enforcement, as well as the Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance at 413-452-0624, by hotline at 1-800-842-9055, or by email at reportabuse

The Massachusetts Fair Housing Center is getting a new director

HOLYOKE – Maureen St. Cyr has taken over as CEO of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, a civil rights organization dedicated to providing free legal services to combat and eliminate housing discrimination in the counties of Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire, Hampden and Worcester.

St. Cyr replaces Attorney Meris Berquist, who has served as Executive Director for the past 15 years. She previously worked as a housing solicitor at Community Legal Aid in Worcester.

“We’re thrilled to have Maureen leading us into the next chapter,” Ellen Pader, executive chair of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, said in a statement. “She combines legal experience with a deep understanding of the many, often subtle ways in which discriminatory housing practices manifest themselves. She is a natural collaborator and we look forward to the new partnerships she will form with social justice and community service organizations throughout western Massachusetts.”

St. Cyr will lead the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center in enforcing federal fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination. For more information about the center’s work, visit

Results for non-binding poll question certified

BOSTON – The office of the secretary of state has confirmed the official results of the non-binding carbon cashback question that appeared on the Nov. 8 vote in three state representative counties.

The question proposed a fossil fuel carbon fee, with most of the proceeds being given back to individuals as cashback. The question carried the combined vote of all three districts with 29,500 “yes” votes (55.9%) and 23,239 “no” votes.

It carried the 1st Hampshire District, which includes all of Northampton and many of the surrounding hill towns (represented by Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton), with a 70.0% ‘yes’ vote passed in eight out of nine boroughs. It also won the 1st Franklin District, which includes much of Greenfield and nearby towns (represented by Natalie Blais, D-Deerfield), with a 60.7% yes vote and 13 of 17 voting districts.

However, in Worcester’s 5th Ward, which includes Worcester Suburbs (represented by Donald Berthiaume, R-Spencer), she received 35.2% yes votes, losing in all 12 cities.

Tim Walter of the Ashfield chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby stated: “Considering that none of the three districts spent a penny on advertising and the voting took place at a time of high inflation and gas prices, these results are quite remarkable. But it also shows that there is still much more education to be done about the climate crisis and the dangers of global warming.”

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