Albany Diocese Among Those Cited In Abuse Lawsuits As Hubbard Is Named

Aug 14, 2019

Bishop Emeritus Howard Hubbard
Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Hundreds of childhood sexual abuse victims are expected to sue their abusers and affiliated organizations under New York’s Child Victims Act. The legislation’s one-year lookback window for action previously barred by the statute of limitations opened Wednesday. 

A number of people and locations associated with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, including former Bishop Howard Hubbard, have been cited in some of the first lawsuits filed.

"We support all survivors and the justice and healing that they seek," said current Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger in a prepared statement. "But our mission goes way beyond. Our common mission also involves protection and prevention and continuing to create conditions so that all are protected from sins and crimes of sexual abuse and its ravages especially our children and our most vulnerable adults." 

The Times Union reports that a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Marsh Law Firm accused Hubbard of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy multiple times in the 1990s. The 80-year-old retired as bishop in 2014. The newspaper reported Hubbard's lawyer disputes the claim. 

Representing 170 sexual abuse survivors in New York, Stephen Weiss of the New York City law firm Seeger Weiss LLP says claims are being filed against the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts of America.

"We are filing initially about 15 complaints throughout New York state," Weiss said in a conference call Wednesday morning. "They're against most of the Catholic Church dioceses across the state, maybe one or two that we are omitting at this time. For each of these claims, we have conducted multiple in-depth interviews with our clients, we've engaged in independent investigations, we've obtained corroborating evidence to strengthen and support their allegations."

In filing 22 lawsuits against the Albany Diocese Wednesday, the law firms of Jeff Anderson and Associates and LaFave, Wein and Frament identified 15 accused sexual abuse perpetrators and 15 locations connected to the Albany Diocese named in the actions.