Report Blasts Boro Bishop for Not Stopping Sex Abuse

By Alexander Dworkowitz
Times-Ledger [Brooklyn NY]
July 31, 2003

A report by the Massachusetts attorney general harshly criticized the head of the borough's Catholic churches, claiming the bishop did not do enough to prevent the sexual abuse of children in his eight years in the No. 2 spot at the Archdiocese of Boston.

Bishop Thomas Daily, the head of the Diocese of Brooklyn, which also includes Queens, was one of many church officials admonished by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly in a scathing 88-page document released July 23.

Reilly concluded that "the widespread abuse of children was due to an institutional acceptance of abuse and a massive pervasive failure of leadership," but he did not find enough evidence to charge any of the top hierarchy of the archdiocese with a crime.

The 16-month investigation found that from 1940 to the present, 789 people have leveled charges of abuse against priests and church workers in the Archdiocese of Boston. Some 250 members of the clergy were accused.

From 1976 until 1984, Daily was vicar for administration, second in command at the Archdiocese of Boston. In 1984, he became the bishop of Palm Beach, moving on to Brooklyn in 1990.

The vicar for administration was the person primarily responsible for handling complaints of sexual abuse leveled against the clergy, according to Reilly.

The Diocese of Brooklyn issued a statement on behalf of Daily after Reilly announced his findings.

"We share in a principal theme of the report that every effort must be made to protect children and to assist victims," the diocese said. "Given the understanding and knowledge that people had about this issue 20 or more years ago, Bishop Daily followed procedures in Boston that he believed were appropriate at the time, guided by the advice of professionals whose counsel he sought."

The report, however, concluded that Daily did not thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse of children and did not notify authorities about the allegations.

Daily often transferred priests suspected of sexual misconduct to other posts without telling the new parish of the accusations, the report said.

"Bishop Daily apparently did not believe that a priest who engaged in such misconduct was apt to engage in such conduct in the future," the report said. "Accordingly, he failed to take any meaningful steps to limit abusive priests' contact with children in the future."

In April, the Diocese of Brooklyn turned over the names of 36 accused priests to authorities.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown investigated complaints of abuse in Queens, but found that the information provided by the diocese was not enough to charge any of the priests with a crime, since the statute of limitations expired.

A civil suit, however, was filed against the diocese on behalf of the alleged victims in October.

In the $300 million suit, Attorney Michael Dowd said the diocese covered up abuses.

The suit names 43 plaintiffs, 38 of whom attended churches or schools in Queens at the time of the alleged incidents.


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