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  Ex-Local Priest on Abuse List

By Timothy O'Connor
Times Herald-Record
April 10, 2002

White Plains A priest accused of molesting a boy while he was stationed in Orange County in the 1960s and 1970s could face criminal prosecution for more recent allegations of abuse in other counties.

Orange County District Attorney Frank Phillips said the Rev. Francis Stinner, who worked at St. Mary's Parish in Port Jervis and John S. Burke High School in Goshen, could be the target of a criminal investigation.

"Stinner ... has to be looked at by other prosecutors," he said, "and certainly we would help with any investigation."

Phillips and prosecutors from seven other counties met yesterday with lawyers from the Archdiocese of New York to receive the names of priests accused of sexually abusing minors in the past 40 years. The archdiocese said last week that it would turn over the names to prosecutors as public pressure mounted in the wake of a burgeoning national scandal.

But the archdiocese's announcement that it would use an advisory committee to evaluate future allegations of abuse by priests met with staunch opposition from prosecutors. The advisory committee, to be made up of clergy, judges and lawyers, would determine which cases to send to law enforcement.

The prosecutors said that it was not the archdiocese's place to investigate criminal matters.

"They're trying to circumvent being mandated reporters," Sullivan County District Attorney Steve Lungen said. "That's ridiculous. That's just not going to work."

Lungen sent a representative to the meeting. None of the names turned over yesterday were connected to Sullivan County.

The meeting at the office of Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro lasted two hours. After the meeting, Pirro said that she did not want to discuss specific cases. A five-year statute of limitations exists for sexual abuse cases. The clock starts ticking when an alleged victim turns 18.

Apparently, though, not many of the cases turned over appear to be prosecutable.

Ulster County District Attorney Don Williams said prosecutors told archdiocese lawyer James McCabe that they were "concerned about the number of reports that fall within the statute of limitations."

No priest has been accused of sexual abuse in Ulster County, Williams said. But two priests with past allegations of sexual abuse do have connections to the county. The Rev. Gennaro Gentile, accused of sexual abuse as far back as 1971, served at St. Mary's in Marlborough for 18 months beginning in 1982. The Rev. Jack Kennington, now at Mount Saint Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, was accused of sexually abusing a brother and sister in the 1980s, before he came to Ulster.

Gentile also served in Orange County in 1971 and one allegation against him stems from that time. He, Stinner, and the convicted child molester Edward Pipala were the three priests whose names were given yesterday to Phillips.

Stinner could not be reached for comment. One of the men whose charges against him the archdiocese labeled as credible, welcomed the news.

"It's about time," the man said. "It's about time." Contact: toconnor@th-record.com

 
 

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