Parts of Sex-Abuse Case Sealed
By Stephanie Saul
Newsday [Queens NY]
March 27, 2003
A Queens judge said yesterday he has sealed parts of the explosive sex abuse case involving St. Elizabeth Parish and its former pastor, the Rev. John Thompson.
"I don't want this case tried in the press," said Justice Duane Alphonse Hart of Jamaica, barring disclosure of key portions of the case filed last summer by former St. Elizabeth School principal Barbara Samide. Hart would not explain his reasons, but some of the pleadings are believed to be sexual in nature. "I think that all the parties deserve some dignity," Hart said.
Samide, 40, blew the whistle on Thompson last year for stealing funds from the Ozone Park parish. Thompson, 50, agreed to pay back $95,940 after pleading guilty to theft in October. But Thompson might never have to repay all that money, officials said yesterday, because he filed bankruptcy this month.
In her civil lawsuit, Samide claims Thompson physically and sexually abused her while at St. Elizabeth. She has sued the Diocese of Brooklyn, as well, claiming church officials failed to protect her from Thompson and, later, retaliated against her.
Thompson and the diocese deny the allegations.
During a hearing yesterday in Samide's $5-million lawsuit, Hart also ordered diocesan lawyers to explain why Samide isn't being paid her $50,000 annual salary.
"I was told that Mrs. Samide wasn't fired. If she wasn't fired, why isn't she being paid?" Hart asked diocesan lawyer Richard Cea. "You will come back to me in two weeks to explain to me why she is not being paid."
Hart also said he was appointing a referee to oversee discovery in the case. That followed a complaint from Samide's lawyer, Michael Dowd, that the Diocese has failed to turn over documents.
"The last thing they want is for the facts to come out. That's as clear as day," Dowd said.
Cea denied that. "I do want it to move forward," he said, "because when it's done, I think the diocese will be vindicated."
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