A lawyer who represents several alleged victims of priest sexual abuse withdrew a portion of a
lawsuit Friday that challenged the actions of a priest and diocesan official under a federal anti-
racketeering law.
Characterizing his actions as "trial strategy," lawyer John Aretakis said in court that his clients,
identified in court papers only as Jack Doe a 19-year State Police veteran, and Mr. and Mrs. John
Doe, the trooper's parents, agreed with the move.
State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Teresi, who is handling the case, allowed Aretakis to
withdraw the clause of the lawsuit that contains the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act, known as RICO. The rest of the case remains intact.
Aretakis told Teresi he was voluntarily discontinuing the RICO action "with prejudice and without
reservation," which means he can't reinstate it at a future date.
The continuing lawsuit alleges that the Rev. John Bertolucci and the diocese's chancellor, the Rev.
Kenneth Doyle, conspired to intimidate the victim from lodging a formal complaint. The alleged
victim has accused Bertolucci of molesting him.
Aretakis wanted to drop the RICO claim "without prejudice," which means that in the future, if he
becomes aware of additional information, he could reinstate it.
But attorney Michael Costello, who represents Doyle and had a standing motion before Teresi to
dismiss the RICO claim, insisted on it being done "with prejudice."
Costello called the RICO claim legally insufficient "as a matter of law." The lawsuit was filed last
"Counsel for the plaintiff (Aretakis) has consistently asserted the validity, the strength, the
significance and the ultimate disposition of which this RICO claim will bring," Costello said. "Now,
Mr. Aretakis, for admittedly strategic reasons is going to reverse ... and fold his tent."
Aretakis could try to reinstate the claim in the future in Teresi's court or he could go to federal
court where most RICO claims are filed. RICO's initial intent was to target organized crime figures,
but it has been used to prosecute various types of concerted activity.
Later in the proceeding, Teresi responded to a letter from attorney James T. Potter who represents
Bertolucci. Potter asked for a clarification of Teresi's ruling earlier this week advising attorneys to
adhere to guidelines when discussing priest cases with the media.
Teresi read a letter to Potter in court. He said his Monday decision "was not a 'gag' order, nor
restrains any counsel to discuss the cases at all nor is it intended to be."
The directive cautions attorneys to follow the Disciplinary Rules of the Code of Professional
Responsibility of the Judiciary Law, the judge said.
He suggested attorneys act professionally and responsibly and "avoid making extrajudicial
statements that might prejudice the rights of each and every party to a fair trial."
Outside the courtroom, Mark Furnish, an attorney at the state Senate and local spokesman for the
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Teresi's ruling amounted to a "gag order."
"If it looks like a rose, it is a rose," he said, claiming the underlying threat is still there to silence
victims and their attorneys.
He called on Bishop Howard Hubbard to "call everything off, open the files and listen to the
Furnish, 31, said he was molested by a priest in Rochester between the ages of 12 and 15 and
has a lawsuit pending there.
Also Friday, the diocese disclosed that a former Albany priest, Dozia Wilson, had been removed
from the ministry in 1990 because of complaints about "the inappropriateness of Wilson's
interaction with minors." Hubbard sent him to a therapeutic center and Wilson was never
reassigned. In 1993, at Hubbard's request, Wilson resigned from the ministry.