Diocese Plans to Hire Investigator

By James V. Franco
The Record
February 10, 2004

ALBANY - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is prepared to hire an independent firm to conduct an investigation into two allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by Bishop Howard Hubbard some 30 years ago.

Chancellor of Public Information Rev. Kenneth Doyle said if Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne does not investigate, the diocese will hire a "high-profile, independent investigator who would have the resources to conduct a full and comprehensive investigation, and the background and the reputation to ensure people that the investigation would be thorough and fair."

He said either investigation will include Hubbard taking a polygraph test.

Clyne has said he would look into the allegations, but has not yet said if he will be conducting an investigation since there are no allegations a crime was committed in either case. He did not return phone calls Monday.

Meanwhile, Doyle said the diocese's pastoral center has received 79 phone calls, 280 e-mails, 411 cards and letters and 10 floral arrangements supporting the bishop since the first allegation was made on Feb. 4. The second allegation came a day later.

In the first, Andrew Zalay came forward with what he said was a suicide note written by his brother, Thomas. In the note, the then 25-year-old said a relationship with Hubbard drove him to set himself on fire in 1978.

The second came from Anthony Bonneau, now 40, who claims Hubbard paid him $20 for sexual encounters while he was working as a prostitute in Washington Park in the mid to late 1970s.

Hubbard cut short a Florida vacation on Friday to publicly, and categorically, deny the first allegation in front of a cheering crowd of faithful and a large media contingent. He also has denied the second allegation.

He now plans to make a round of visits to newspaper editorial boards, as well as to hold another press conference later this week.

The head of the Albany chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), in a letter to Hubbard, called on Hubbard supporters to do so privately and quietly.

"Today's pep-rally in your support is simply not something Jesus would do, sanction or tolerate," wrote Mark Furnish.

"We appreciate that your supporters want to offer you comfort. But it's best for all parties if they do so privately.

"Otherwise, they risk scaring already suffering victims of sex crimes, and reducing the likelihood that other crimes will be reported to law enforcement."

State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno weighed in on Hubbard Monday while appearing on WROW radio.

"I think he has acted to these allegations in a way that gives credibility to his innocence," Bruno said. "And I would like to believe him, and I do believe him and I think it is up to others to prove otherwise.

"I think it is unfair these allegations are laid out there against people, and they are guilty until proven innocent."


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