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  Another Claims Bishop Looked Away on Subject of Abusive Priest

By Robert Cristo
The Troy Record [Albany NY]
April 29, 2004

ALBANY - A former Albany Diocese parishioner spoke out Wednesday about being abused by an ex-local priest who the alleged victim says should have caught the attention of Bishop Howard Hubbard back in the late 1970s.

In 1980, Joe Woodward was a vulnerable 14-year-old from an economically deprived background who latched on to then-Rev. Dozia Wilson for spiritual guidance and as a father figure at St. Ann's Church in Fort Ann, Washington County.

Woodward played guitar at Wilson's services, spent many hours alone practicing with him and even lived with the priest, who was finally removed from ministry by Hubbard 13 years ago.

The now 37-year-old vacuum cleaner salesman claims that over a four-year period, Wilson distracted him with expensive gifts, fancy dinners, trips to the West Coast and drugs (marijuana) so he could take advantage of him sexually.

"He provided me with gifts, trips and led me to believe that I was growing spiritually as long as I tolerated his sexual advances," said Woodward, who now lives in Fort Edward and has a wife and six children.

Hubbard's decision to remove the priest is one Woodward wholeheartedly approved of, but he says it should have occurred years before Wilson ever had the opportunity to use his powerful position to allegedly perform sexual acts on him.

In 1976, one year before Hubbard was installed as bishop of the diocese, Wilson was removed from the Albany Diocese and sent to the Boston Archdiocese.

That was largely because it was already known that Wilson, 59, was caught having sex with two boys in an Albany hotel that year.

No charges were filed against him in the case, which was reviewed by then-Albany County District Attorney Sol Greenberg.

Neither current District Attorney Paul Clyne nor Greenberg could be contacted for comment on the incident, but the former DA was quoted in a 2002 Nyack Journal News article saying he recalled a meeting with Wilson and then-Albany Bishop Edwin Broderick at which the priest was ordered never to return to an Albany parish.

However, in 1979 Wilson was quietly returned to the Albany Diocese - with Hubbard's knowledge - from Boston for unspecified reasons, despite the deal struck with Greenburg.

Boston Archdiocese spokesperson Rev. Christopher Coyne was out of town and could not be contacted to find out the reasons for Wilson's transfer, although there were other allegations of sexual abuse concerning Wilson at the time.

By 1980, Wilson was an associate pastor at St. Ann's Church in Fort Ann, and when he moved to St. Mary's Parish in Hudson, Woodward followed him to the place where most of the alleged sexual abuse occurred.

"What bothers me most is that Bishop Hubbard could have done something to stop Father Wilson's chronic history of abuse in its tracks," said Woodward, who has filed a $5 million lawsuit against the Boston and Albany dioceses.

"He (Hubbard) knew all about Father Wilson's penchant for having sex with boys, and rather than exposing this man for his crimes, he found it easier to sweep the whole thing under the table," he added.

Woodward's lawyer, well-known sex abuse victims attorney John Aretakis, says he's secured portions of Wilson's personal file that "contradict" Hubbard's past statements that the bishop was unaware of Wilson's background.

Aretakis contends that all the information in the file would have been reviewed by Hubbard before Wilson was brought back to the Albany Diocese.

One memorandum from the Archdiocese of Boston, dated Nov. 16, 1978, states that there were "several pastoral problems" that led to Wilson's removal from a Roxbury, Mass., church.

The memo, which was from then-Boston Diocese Director Michael F. Groden to now-deceased Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, does not go into specifics of Wilson's problems.

However, it does mention Wilson did not deny "rumor, report and innuendo" discussed about him and that the Boston Archdiocese required him to seek therapy for his problems.

"As to some compromise solution, like outpatient treatment, I want to advise you that it is in my judgment that the present predicament at St. Joseph's parish will never be solved while he (Wilson) freely comes and goes," wrote Groden, less than a year before Wilson was returned to ministry in Albany.

Albany Diocese spokesperson Kenneth Goldfarb denied Hubbard had any knowledge of Wilson's past when the priest returned to the area.

"Though the church's policies on handling sexual abuse complaints are different today than they were in 1991, Bishop Hubbard never knowingly allowed any priest to abuse any child, and the allegations to the contrary in this lawsuit are completely false," wrote Goldfarb in a statement.

Last year, the Albany Diocese reached a $500,000 settlement with a man who claimed to be sexually abused by Wilson in Boston when he was a teenager in the 70s.

After being removed from the church in 1993, Wilson spent the next 10 years as director of spiritual life and awareness at St. Christopher's Residential Treatment Center for problem children in Dobb's Ferry, Westchester County.

Wilson had access to hundreds of teenagers from dysfunctional family backgrounds during his tenure at the center.

He left St. Christopher's abruptly in September of 2003 following an incident in which he was beaten by an 18-year-old man he allegedly picked up in Manhattan.

Wilson was found unconscious in a hallway, but assault charges against Luis Canales Sanchez were dropped after Wilson refused to cooperate with the prosecution.

Calls made to the treatment center's human resources manager Bernard Meyer to determine if the center was aware of Wilson's past were not returned.

According to Goldfarb, it is not the dioceses' responsibility to keep tabs on, or warn other institutions about, problem priests who were removed from the ministry.

 
 

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