Presumably lots more about this story in the coming weeks.
The head of a Massachusetts parish soup kitchen was placed on administrative leave on March 11 after allegations were made to the diocese that for years he has coerced vulnerable women that use the soup kitchen’s services into sex.
The complaint was made against Billy Riley, who has been the food for the poor coordinator for St. John’s Catholic Church in the Diocese of Worcester since 2013.
Nicole Bell, the CEO of Living in Freedom Together – an organization in Worcester that supports women leaving prostitution and works to end the sex trade – made the March 11 complaint to the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator. Bell, who got out of prostitution herself eight years ago, detailed her experiences with Riley to Crux in February.
Bell said she first met Riley through the soup kitchen in 2011, at which time she was homeless. She alleges that he “took an interest in her” and offered to let her shower at his house.
“I did that because I’m experiencing homelessness. I have nothing,” Bell said. “And then that leads to some kind of exchange of sexual activity for his assistance and so eventually it felt like if I didn’t do what he was requesting of me that I wouldn’t be able to access the soup kitchen.”
Crux spoke with another woman in February – who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from Riley – that had similar experiences with Riley from 2014 until August 2021 when she became sober.