Hubbard Probe to Be Led by Heavy Hitter: Diocese Names Former U.S. Attorney with Wealth of Experience to Be Special Investigator

By Shawn Charniga
The Record [Albany NY]
February 18, 2004

TROY - A former U.S. attorney who investigated the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center has been hired by the Albany Diocese to investigate allegations of non-criminal sexual abuse made against Bishop Howard Hubbard in recent weeks.

Mary Jo White, who in 1993 was appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York by President Bill Clinton, will control the investigation and will follow up with a written report that will be released to the public, according to the diocese, which is pledging its full cooperation.

After Albany County District Attorney Paul Clyne declined to investigate last Wednesday, citing insufficient evidence, the diocese charged its review board, created to investigate claims of sexual abuse against priests, to name an independent investigator who will be paid by the Diocesan Insurance Fund.

White could not be reached for comment Tuesday but delivered a prepared statement through the marketing arm of her employer, New York City law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP, where White is a partner who chairs the 222-lawyer litigation department.

"I accepted this engagement only after receiving an absolute assurance that I would be given complete authority over the investigation, be able to engage the necessary resources to do a thorough and intensive job and be provided with the full cooperation of the diocese to conduct a thorough, independent investigation of the allegations regarding Bishop Howard Hubbard.

"Upon the conclusion of the investigation I will publicly release a written report of the findings. My investigation will begin immediately," said White's statement, read by Robin Shanzer, media and public relations manager for Debevoise and Plimpton.

According to comments made Tuesday by spokesman Ken Goldfarb, the diocese feels an independent probe is the only way to investigate the claims.

Within 48 hours during the first week of February, two men, aided by attorney John Aretakis, stepped forward to claim Bishop Hubbard had on several occasions broken his vow of celibacy. One claimed a sexual relationship be- tween his brother and Hubbard had led to the brother's 1978 suicide; the other claimed Hubbard had twice been a customer while the man worked as a teenage prostitute in the 1970s.

Neither charge carries criminal penalties, as the statute of limitations has long expired, and both men say they don't plan to sue for money. Hubbard flatly denied both allegations and embarked on a public relations campaign to proclaim his innocence.

That innocence will be tested by White, who once aided in the prosecution of John Gotti and other organized crime figures. She will visit Albany in the coming days to answer press inquiries.

The first woman to hold the post in the Southern District, White resigned from the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2002 after directing an investigation of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon a year earlier, as well as the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and plans to bomb the United Nations headquarters, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels and three U.S. embassies overseas.


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