ALBANY, N.Y. - A priest who once served as a city fire department chaplain was put
on leave as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany investigates accusations that he
sexually abused two children decades ago.
The Rev. Joseph R. Romano, who retired as a prison chaplain in 1999 and currently
lives in Florida, was notified of the suspension Saturday by Bishop Howard Hubbard.
Hubbard decided to suspend Romano, 63, after "credible" complaints that he abused
minors in the 1970s and 1980s, according to church officials.
Romano, ordained in 1966, was chaplain of Albany's fire department from 1967 to
1984. He served as an assistant principal at the former Cardinal McCloskey High
School in Albany during the mid-1970s, and coordinator of religious education at
LaSalle School in Albany from 1981 to 1984, when he was assigned as full-time
chaplain to the Greene County Correctional Facility.
He also served as pastor of St. Ann's Church in Albany from 1974 to 1977 and then of
St. Lucy's in Altamont, 12 miles west of Albany, for four years.
One of the abuse allegations was brought to the diocese last summer, and the second
within the past month, and a church-hired private investigator looked into the complaints
for the diocesan sexual misconduct panel, officials said. Any final decision is pending
further investigation, church officials said.
John Aretakis represents a man claiming Romano abused him in the 1980s, and others
who claim they were abused by priests. "It's gratifying to know that the removal of
priests from active ministry is finally starting to happen because it assists victims in healing
and in knowing that some modicum of justice is occurring," Aretakis told the Times
Union of Albany.
Romano strongly denied the abuse allegations, diocesan spokesman Kenneth Doyle told
the Schenectady Gazette. While publicizing allegations before they are proved or
disproved is an effort to regain public confidence, it may come at the expense of accused
priests, he said.
"I think there is beginning to be a confidence that the church is serious about making up
for the past by diligently looking into any allegations, by treating victims well, and by
protecting children by making sure the abusive priests never serve in the ministry again,"
Last week, the Rev. James F. Kelly, a former Albany diocesan priest accused of sexual
misconduct in New York in the 1980s, who served until recently as a prison chaplain in
Carson City, Nev., was removed from active ministry amid allegations in a federal
lawsuit that he molested a boy in Nebraska in the 1970s.
Monday, Feb 10, 2003
Albany Catholic diocese puts
priest on leave
Monday, Feb 10, 2003