Albany Priest Found Dead
Had Been Associated with Letter Detailing Ring of Gay Clergy

Newsday [Albany NY]
February 17, 2004

Albany - A priest was found dead Sunday, two days after meeting with Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard over a 1995 letter alleging the bishop was part of "a ring of homosexual Albany priests."

The Rev. John Minkler, 57, was found in his home in Watervliet, Albany County. Watervliet police have not said how or when Minkler died.

"He was very disturbed that his name was associated with this letter and he wanted to assure me that he was not its author," Hubbard said yesterday.

"He was the one who requested the meeting," Hubbard said in an interview.

"He said 'I just wanted to look you in the eye so you could see me tell you face to face, man to man, that I was not the author of the letter.' What was said in that letter was not true," Hubbard said after he was interviewed by WROW-AM in Albany.

Minkler was ordained in 1972 and had been chaplain of the Stratton Veterans Administration Hospital in Albany for about 20 years.

A copy of the 1995 letter to the archdiocese in New York City surfaced after a news conference last week called by a lawyer who has represented several alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Albany Diocese in a statement issued yesterday said Minkler was identified as the letter's author in a television news report.

"The purported letter" to the late Cardinal John O'Connor was denied by Minkler in a written statement and no such letter was found in the files of the archdiocese, according to the Albany Diocese statement.

Last week, Andrew Zalay came forward to say Hubbard had abused his brother, Thomas Zalay, 30 years ago. Thomas Zalay committed suicide in 1978.

Hubbard has denied ever sexually abusing anyone.

The Albany County district attorney declined to investigate the 30-year-old claim against Hubbard, saying the allegation didn't represent a crime. The Albany Diocese, which represents more than 400,000 Catholics in 14 counties, has said it will hire its own investigator to look into Zalay's claim.


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