A recently filed lawsuit against retired Bishop Howard Hubbard alleges the former head of the Albany Diocese helped cover up the abuse of a 16-year-old boy decades ago. The Diocese denies the allegations.
Speaking outside Albany’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral on Friday, Attorney Danielle George and victim advocate James Faluszczak said their client was working and temporarily living at a Jesuit retreat house in Albany County in 1956 when he was groomed for later abuse by Fr. Edward Leroux. They say their client eventually reported the abuse to the now 81-year-old Hubbard while he was at Mater Christi Seminary.
“Bishop Hubbard at that moment had an opportunity to engage in compassion, to offer comfort to our client, to offer an investigation to our client, to help our client understand what happened to him, and to help him get closure at that time – but Bishop Hubbard didn’t do that,” says George. “Instead, he told our client to just forget it.”
An Albany Diocese spokesperson tells WAMC in a statement:
“We will not comment on the lawsuit or press conference, other than to say that there are serious timeline issues here that bring up a lot of questions. The lawsuit contends that the victim told Bishop Hubbard about the 1956 abuse when he was a 'street priest’ in the neighborhood. Based on the lawsuit timeline, Bishop Hubbard was not known as a ’street priest’ at that time, and, in fact, was not yet a priest at all. He would have been about 17 years old and a student-seminarian.”
According to the Times Union, Leroux went on to work as a priest in Troy, Cohoes, and Guilderland. Leroux faced allegations of child sex abuse in 1992, but Hubbard didn’t remove him from his ministry until 2002. Leroux died three years later. Because the new lawsuit says the abuse was reported while Hubbard was a seminarian, George and Faluszczak say they plan to open a case against Mater Christi Seminary.
“They obviously did not do their job in providing a safe environment – or the safe formation and training – for a future priest,” says Faluszczak.
Hubbard is facing four civil lawsuits accusing him of child sex abuse, and has stepped down from public ministry. Faluszczak used the Friday press conference to call for Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger to remove Hubbard’s title of “Bishop Emeritus,” and to make the Diocese’s investigation into the claims public. Hubbard has denied all accusations.