Albany Bishop Speaks out after an Investigation Cleared Him

Associated Press, carried in Newsday
June 26, 2004

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Speaking out for the first time Saturday after outside investigators found no proof to support accusations of sexual misconduct against him, Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard described the past four months as a "profoundly painful and disillusioning experience."

Hubbard, 65, who had maintained that he kept his vow of celibacy, said he knew his name would be cleared. He went on to say that those who accused him of having a homosexual relationship probably took their frustration out on him because of the way the church handled past clergy sexual abuse complaints of minors.

"My suffering, as painful as it has been, in no way compares to the pain and anguish of true victims of clergy sexual abuse," he said. "For four months, their cause, unfortunately, has been obscured by the false accusations against me."

This week, a probe led by former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White, who was hired by a church review board to investigate charges that Hubbard had homosexual relationships with two men, found "no credible evidence" to support the claims.

In February, Hubbard was accused of having an affair with Thomas Zalay in 1978, who later killed himself. The claim came from the Zalay's brother, Andrew, who said he found a note in his parents' home identifying Hubbard.

Days later, a second man, Anthony Bonneau, came forward, claiming that Hubbard paid him for sex in the 1970s in an Albany park where the man _ then a homeless teenager _ lived.

As part of the investigation, White and her colleagues conducted more than 300 interviews and reviewed more than 20,000 documents, including Hubbard's computer files, medical records, credit card accounts and personal mail.

The investigation found that Hubbard passed a lie detector in which he claimed he never knew, nor met, Zalay. White also said there was "credible evidence" to believe Hubbard may have been misidentified for a former priest who frequented the park during the 1970s and 1980s. Investigators said the priest, who was not identified, was interviewed and admitted engaging in homosexual acts.

John Aretakis, the lawyer representing alleged victims of clergy abuse, had said that the investigation was not independent because White was paid by the church review board.


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