Law Firms Accuse 83 Clerics Of Abuse In The Albany Diocese

May 21, 2019

Today in Albany, sexual abuse survivors joined representatives of two law firms in releasing the names and photographs of more than 80 clergymen in the Diocese of Albany accused of sexual misconduct. The Diocese disputes the report.

The law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates of New York City and LaFave, Wein & Frament, PLLC, of Guilderland,  produced a report they say reveals the identities, histories, photographs and information on the clerics, all accused of child sexual abuse. Jeff Anderson:    "The Catholic Bishop in Albany has already released a list of some 47 under some pressure. The number of those we released here today is 83. A large number of names yet to be known are priests in the Diocese of Albany accused, but there's also a number of priests who are members of religious orders, that have never been disclosed."

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Mark Lyman says he was abused by a parish priest in Troy.   "The abuse was extensive, over many years. It had a horrible impact on my life. And as a survivor, I want to empower other survivors to step forward, so that we can make this state stronger than ever and we can make sure that we protect children, and that this type of abuse never ever happens again.'

Bridie Farrell grew up in Saratoga Springs. At age 15 she was a nationally ranked speed-skater who was sexually abused by teammate Olympic medalist Andy Gabel, who was 33 at the time.   "The point of us coming forward today, the point of us calling out these names, the point of us asking for accountability is so that, yes, people like myself and these others can heal and move forward. But is to change the culture so that the systems that are youth-serving are going to be safer for children."

The survivors are demanding full disclosure by the Diocese of Albany and the religious orders involved regarding all clergy accused of sexual abuse who worked in the diocese, including their current whereabouts, photographs and histories. Many of the clergy listed in the report have died, but others’ current whereabouts are unknown. 

Bridie added "This is not anti-Catholic. This is anti-crime. This is not against these individual people in calling this a criminal ring. This is to hold an institution accountable that facilitated child sexual abuse. So it doesn't skew our faith or where we came from."

Again, Jeff Anderson:     “We know that the Catholic Diocese and the Catholic Bishops across this country, whom we’ve sued, every single of them in the last 30 years, that they have permitted crimes of clerics to have occurred and given safe harbor to them. We also know that they have engaged in practices, employing protocols of secrecy, that have allowed the top officials to be complicit in participation of some of those crimes. We are not calling the Catholic Diocese of Albany a criminal enterprise. We are calling on them to do better to protect the kids and reveal the truth today.”

The Albany Diocese responded to the press conference in a statement on its website, writing "Bishop Scharfenberger has been a national leader in bringing justice to survivors" and  “there are inaccuracies on the list, names on the list that have not been found credible, many religious order priests, over whom we do not have jurisdiction, and others who are not alleged to have abused in the Albany Diocese, including at least one who never served as a priest in the Albany Diocese." 

Here is the full statement:

May 21, 2019

Before we issue our statement below, we must first correct the record:

Mr. Anderson stated that Bishop Scharfenberger in November 2015 released our List of Clergy Offenders “under some pressure.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Bishop Scharfenberger was a staunch advocate of publishing names of credibly accused clergy – both living and deceased – ahead of almost all other dioceses and organizations in the country. You can read what Bishop Scharfenberger had to say on the release of names in his 2015 column on that subject: https://evangelist.org/Content/Bishop/Columns/Article/Toward-openness-and-healing/17/79/25427

Mr. Anderson also said the Diocese is “still adhering to secrecy.” Bishop Scharfenberger has been a national leader in bringing justice to survivors and has been on the cutting edge of efforts to engage directly with survivors to bring them not only justice but healing. 

Although we will not address every name on Mr. Anderson’s list, we can say that there are inaccuracies on the list, names on the list that have not been found credible, many religious order priests, over whom we do not have jurisdiction, and others who are not alleged to have abused in the Albany Diocese, including at least one who never served as a priest in the Albany Diocese.

Read the full statement below:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 21, 2019

Following is a statement by Mary DeTurris Poust, Director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, in response to today’s Jeff Anderson press conference:

“We want to say first and foremost to the survivors who spoke today that we are inspired by their courage in coming forward and grateful for their willingness to bring light to situations that may have been in darkness for too long. Any time we hear survivors recount the horrors of sexual abuse, our hearts ache for them and their families, for childhoods stolen and for futures torn apart.

“Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany are committed to justice for those who have been sexually abused by priests and others in whom they put their trust.

“From the Independent Mediation Assistance Program launched in 2004, to the pro-active release of a list of clergy offenders in November 2015, to the recent establishment of a task force whose job is to support survivors and seek restorative justice on their behalf, the Bishop and the Diocese continue to strive to put survivors first and to emphasize transparency.

“Our first concern is for the survivors, and we stand ready to accompany them, support them, and assist them.

“Any claim received by the Diocese of Albany is immediately forwarded to the appropriate District Attorney and subsequently sent to the Diocesan Review Board for independent investigation. The Diocese of Albany urges all victims to report any instance of sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, its employees, or volunteers, to civil authorities and to contact the diocesan Assistance Coordinator at (518) 453-6646 or assistance.coordinator@rcda.org.”