Man Sues NY Archdiocese over Alleged Sex Abuse by Priest

Associated Press State & Local Wire
July 30, 2002

A young man has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, charging that he was sexually abused by a priest he consulted for counseling three years ago.

The 25-year-old man says in court papers that he was sexually abused by Father Albin Fusco, a Franciscan priest, in the rectory of the Church of the Most Precious Blood in Manhattan's Little Italy in August 1999.

"The priest started kissing him, and then shoved his head into his lap, telling him everything would be OK," the plaintiff's lawyer, Adam Cahn, said Tuesday.

Cahn said that since the alleged incident, his client has tried "several times to kill himself, including taking rat poison, and he's been hospitalized five or six times."

He said his unemployed client is a troubled young man who left college several times and is confused about his sexual identity. His emotional problems led him to the church and Fusco for counseling, Cahn said.

The lawyer said Fusco, who is now 72, and his client were on a sofa in the television room of the church's residential area on Aug. 2, 1999, when Fusco offered the young man a hug.

After a few minutes of sexual contact, Cahn said, his client fled the rectory, "frightened and very ashamed." The lawyer said the young man went home and destroyed most of the furniture in his TriBeCa apartment.

Cahn said his client went to another downtown church and complained to a priest, who notified archdiocesan officials.

Fusco's counseling was improper, Cahn said, because the church had stripped him of duties involving one-on-one ministering to parishioners before he moved to New York City.

In July 2000, Cahn's client filed a sex abuse lawsuit in Manhattan's state Supreme Court against Fusco, the Most Precious Blood parish and the Franciscan Province of the Immaculate Conception, Fusco's religious order. That lawsuit is pending.

The latest lawsuit names only the Archdiocese of New York.

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York archdiocese, said Fusco was subject to the supervision of the Franciscans and not the archdiocese. He had no comment on the lawsuit Tuesday.

Father Patrick Boyle, head of the New York Franciscan office, said of Fusco, "As soon as the allegations were made, we pulled him from the ministries. He's not in a public facility."

Boyle said his order's lawyer, James Geoly, of Chicago, told him that Fusco had never sexually abused anyone and that his encounters had been consensual.

Court papers say church officials "knew or should have known that (Fusco's) anti-social behavior and sexual proclivities were a source of danger and a menace to the life and mental well-being of others."

Cahn noted news reports from the upstate towns of Troy and Watervliet, which said in 1993 that Fusco was arrested on a charge of soliciting sex from a police officer. The charge was conditionally dismissed.

Court papers also say the church moved Fusco, who arrived in New York City in 1997, "from parish to parish without properly, timely and/or appropriately disclosing said person's prior bad acts."

The lawsuit asks $5 million in each compensatory and punitive damages.

Fusco now lives in a residence for friars upstate, the head of the New York Franciscan office said.


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