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  Sex-Abuse Lawsuit Has Local Tie
A Former Rotterdam Pastor Named in Claim Filed in New York City

Times Union (Albany, NY)
July 31, 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 who, in an earlier unrelated case, had been arrested in the Capital Region in 1993.

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

In 1993, Fusco was arrested in Watervliet after propositioning an undercover police officer at Hudson Shore Park. That charge, second-degree harassment, was later dismissed with the understanding that Fusco stay out of the park and have no further trouble with the law.

Because Fusco was a Franciscan, he was not under the direct control of Bishop Howard Hubbard, but was placed on administrative leave by his order and moved out of the Albany Diocese.

The New York City case names only the Archdiocese of New York.

The plaintiff's lawyer, Adam Cahn, said Tuesday that 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."

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.

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.

The Rev. 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."

When Fusco was arrested in 1993, it was reported that he had been receiving treatment from an incident years earlier when he was pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Church in Rotterdam.

At the time of the Watervliet incident, Fusco was working at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in that city.

The lawsuit seeks $5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

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

 
 

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