Albany diocese keeps problem priests on the
Internal study finds 9 guilty of sexual misconduct; hundreds of thousands spent to
settle abuse claims
By DEBORAH MARTINEZ, Staff writer
First published: Sunday, February 24, 2002 ©copyright Times Union 2002
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has allowed priests to remain working even though an internal
investigation determined they were guilty of sexual misconduct with minors, diocesan officials said.
In addition, the diocese acknowledged it has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to settle abuse
Bishop Howard Hubbard said the priests were reassigned to jobs where they are not allowed to be
unsupervised with children. His decision to keep those priests in the diocese was based on an internal
review and advice from independent psychologists, according to his spokesman, the Rev. Kenneth
Overall, Hubbard's administration has substantiated complaints against nine priests accused of
sexually molesting minors, dismissing more than half of them during the past 25 years he's been
bishop of the 14-county diocese. Doyle said the cases came from a pool of complaints forwarded to
Officials would not say how many of the nine remain in limited jobs, but it is fewer than half.
As for the settlements, Doyle declined to provide actual figures, but said cases have typically settled for
between $50,000 to $150,000 each. The money has come from the diocese's insurance coverage and
is based on counseling costs determined to be needed for the victim.
The diocese released the information after reports of bishops keeping cases of sexual misconduct by
priests secret, and as dioceses nationwide are reviewing their policies and turning cases over to local
Hubbard said he reviewed the personnel records of the diocese's 200 priests and determined the
public was not at risk.
"I have done over the last few days a top-to-bottom review of each of the priests in our diocese,''
Hubbard said in a written statement. "Based on everything I know, I believe that there is no one now in
ministry who poses a threat in that regard. If there were, he'd be out of ministry this afternoon. Our
children are our richest treasure.''
The Roman Catholic Church has struggled for years with the problem of sexual abuse by its priests.
Much recent criticism focuses on the church's insistence that it handle abuse allegations internally
instead of turning them over to local prosecutors.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has been shaken by news that Cardinal Bernard Law
knowingly allowed dozens of priests suspected of abuse to work in parishes. One former priest, John
Geoghan was sentenced last week to 9 to 10 years in prison, the maximum, for improperly touching a
10-year-old boy a decade ago.
Geoghan also faces trial in connection with the rape of another child and more than 80 civil suits
accusing him of child sexual abuse. The church has previously settled about 50 lawsuits against
Geoghan, for a total of more than $10 million, and secretly settled child molestation claims against at
least 70 priests in the past 10 years, according to the Boston Globe.
Many of Boston's 2 million Catholics called for Law's resignation, and in a dramatic shift in policy, Law
decided to turn over nearly 90 names of current and former priests suspected of molesting minors over
five decades after prosecutors pressed for more information.
Bishops in New Hampshire, Maine and other parts of Massachusetts also reviewed their past cases
and elected to turn over names of those priests involved to prosecutors.
Albany diocesan officials said nothing was found in their records that needed to be turned over to law
enforcement officials for investigation.
Hubbard's decision to keep the priests was based on the belief they would be helped by extensive
counseling. The decisions are reviewed by a six-member panel and by independent psychologists,
The Albany diocese includes almost 500,000 Catholics, with more than 200 priests working in 182
parishes. It extends toward the state's eastern border, as far north as Warren County and west and
south to Otsego, Delaware and Greene counties.
"In most cases, the victims have deliberately chosen not to bring the matter to public view in order to
protect their own privacy,'' Doyle said. "In each case, we made it very clear to the victim that they had a
choice. We would certainly respect that decision and not violate their right to do that.''
Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne said sexual abuse cases should be investigated by
prosecutors, but stopped short of saying he would ask Hubbard to hand over his records.
"I don't care if it's the Catholic diocese or Mrs. Jones' day care center, one would think if any responsible
authority gets information which could be viewed as criminal conduct ... they would come forward to the
law enforcement authorities,'' said Clyne, a Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday. "It doesn't matter
who the defendant is. Child sexual abuse is a despicable crime.''
In Boston, Law -- the nation's senior Roman Catholic prelate -- has apologized for the scandal, saying it
was the result of "tragically wrong'' decisions based on unsound advice that led him to keep the priests
in his archdiocese.
But Doyle says Hubbard believes his policy works because, "unlike in Boston, we have used an
independent psychologist for our cases.''
After someone makes a complaint, Hubbard or another official meet separately with the alleged victim
and accused priest. Psychological counseling is offered if found necessary. The case then goes before
a six-member internal panel that includes an attorney, psychiatric social worker, psychologist and three
diocesan priests. Two of the panelists are mothers.
The panel was created by Hubbard in 1993 after another round of sexual abuse scandals rocked the
Catholic Church beginning in the late 1980s. Before that, allegations in the Albany diocese were
handled by the bishop himself.
"This panel acts as an advisory to the bishop and they discuss and must concur on any reassignment
of priests, even if recommended by a therapist,'' Doyle said. "This panel must decide if a priest is
actually OK to return.''
But critics say civil and criminal authorities should be making those decisions. Victims are often
reluctant to challenge church authority because they are taught the church knows what's best for them.
"Survivors have been traumatized, and we want to do the easy, safe thing and go to the church because
many bishops encourage us to,'' said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of
those Abused by Priests, a St. Louis-based support group. Clohessy and his three siblings were
molested by their parish priest as children some 30 years ago.
"Quite frankly, for very altruistic reasons, the church will keep it out of the public eye and civil system,''
"Even if the victim does not want his or her name to be used, the diocese can voluntarily go to the police
and say we let go of Father Jack because we believe Father Jack is a pedophile,'' he continued. "Then
the diocese is open and does its civil duty.''
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops apologized last week to abuse
"While we still have much for which we need to be forgiven -- and much to learn -- I am very heartened
by the professionals who work with both victims and abusers who encourage us in this work,'' said
Bishop Wilton D. Gregory.
Still, the church needs to create a policy that would bring all priests accused of abuse to the attention of
prosecutors, Clohessy said.
"You put the protection of the innocent and the vulnerable first -- even before the protection of a grown-
up,'' he said. "So if you have to choose between the safety of a child and the reputation or feelings of an
adult, that should be a no-brainer.''
BROTHER SAL'S VICTIM
Sources: San Francisco Examiner
Seven years after being sexually molested
at a church camp and on a trip to
Disneyland by Catholic Salesian Brother
Salvatore Dominic Billante, an unnamed
17- year-old boy committed suicide in
November. Billante, a youth ministry
advisor at Corpus Christi Church in San
Francisco for 25 years, was convicted and
sentenced to prison for 8 years for the
molestation of another child. After 4 years
he was released from San Quentin on
parole. Billante is known to have molested
24 children. The suicide victim had severe
emotional trouble after the abuse, yet the
church refused to pay for his
institutionalization. The Archdiocese of
San Francisco did pay $6,855 for
counseling fees over a 2-year period for
the boy. Sgt. Bruce Frediani, who knew
the boy, said the suicide "speaks volumes
of what happens to children who are
molested. It's not something kids get
over". The archdiocese denies knowing
Billante is a pedophile.
SYRACUSE — A woman who claimed her son
was abused as a child by a priest has decided
against going to court and, instead, has agreed to
According to the attorney for the family, the
settlement includes a $150,000 payment by the
Diocese of Syracuse, but more importantly a
letter of apology from the church. The settlement
allows the church to avoid a $16 million civil
lawsuit, scheduled to begin in state Supreme
Both cases against Fr. Daniel W. Casey Jr. had
been on the verge of being settled just before a
scheduled trial in July, but the one family balked
at signing a settlement because the agreement
said the priest and church had done nothing
wrong. The other family apparently did not want to
go to court and accepted a cash deal reportedly
worth about $325,000, according to their lawyer.
The twin lawsuits, which originally were filed
separately but were scheduled to be tried
together, accused Casey of sexually abusing two
brothers, then ages 10 and 12, in December 1987
in a shower room at the State University of New
York at Oswego, and of molesting an 11-year-old
boy between August 1988 and January 1989. The
boys claimed that Casey touched and kissed
them, disrobed and had them remove their clothes
in the shower room.
(8/14 Associated Press)
Statistically, a pedophile abuses 100 children in thier life time, we are only
two, The Diocese claims to have only 9 amongst them, that leaves possibly 898
victims with NO recourse at all. Of course the figures could be higher. Of the
200 Priests in the Albany Catholic Diocese, only an amazing 4.5% of them are
possibly guilty of abuse, quite remarkable in that bostons rate is so much
higher. Also given the Fact that Catholic Priests Statistically abuse children at
a much higher rate than any other religion. I suppose we could give Bishop
Hubbard the benefit of the doubt, and believe his figures, after all he only speaks
about Priests within his own diocese, How many have already been moved prior
to his revelation? How many actual complaints have there been over
all?......these are all questions that no matter what people think, should all be a
resounding ZERO, We teach children ZERO tolerance when it comes to drugs,
sex and drinking, I think its time we teach the church ZERO tolerance of child
molestation, And wouldn't it even be greater if those lessons came from the
church itself.... What scares me the most is that the both of us went many
years fighting the "Silence"......are your children?
Clergy Abuse Support | Story Albany | Albany Blue Ribbon Panel | Geoghan Finally sentenced | News Stories involving
Priests | About this Site | Studies on Priests Molesting Children | Settlement | widespread abuse | Albany Diocese refuses
info | Convicted and accused Priests | Extending the statute of limitations | Priests protected more than victims