Priest Accused of Abuse Resigns
Cleric Who Was Accused of Inappropriate Sex with a Former Homeless Man Has Left His Church

By Michele Morgan Bolton
Albany Times Union [Albany NY]
July 30, 2004

A divorced Connecticut millionaire who divested his fortune to become a priest in the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese in 1995 has resigned following two years of claims he had inappropriate sex with a former homeless man he met in Washington Park.

The Rev. David Tressic, 61, left his assignment as pastor at Sacred Heart Church in Gloversville in late June, according to a woman who answered the parish telephone.

His departure followed a dramatic saga in which he took a leave of absence to fight allegations of forced homosexual sex and what he said was the alleged victim's subsequent extortion for hush money.

Tressic was the first Albany priest to leave the ministry because of sexual misconduct claims with an adult man.

He strenuously denied the allegations and accused Steven Hall, 34, of Cortland of trying to squeeze $75,000 out of him in exchange for keeping quiet.

Hall was indicted last October on attempted extortion charges but a Fulton County judge dismissed the criminal complaint in February.

Prosecutors at the time said proving extortion was difficult because the diocese and Bishop Howard Hubbard initially tried to mediate the dispute before Hall went public with his accusations.

Hall has maintained that the priest and the diocese had agreed to pay the money as a settlement. The diocese denies that.

The Rev. Kenneth Doyle, who is Hubbard's Chancellor for Public Communications, confirmed Thursday that Tressic left.

He said the Rev. Donald Czelusniak, pastor of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel parish, would now oversee both churches, assisted by associate pastor the Rev. Paul Butler, a newly-ordained priest.

Doyle gave no reason for Tressic's resignation.

A July 4 church bulletin urged Sacred Heart's parishioners to continue to keep "Fr. David" in their prayers.

Tressic always claimed he was walking through Washington Park on his way to minister to patients at the Stratton VA Medical Center when he first ran into Hall and befriended him.

He then allowed the homeless drug addict to live at the parish rectory and work as a handyman. Tressic also paid Hall's rent for an apartment in Cortland while he attended college there.

Hall claims the priest forced him to have sex while he was high on drugs or alcohol and then cut him off financially when he refused to have sex anymore.

Thursday, Hall said he is relieved Tressic is gone, but feels "bittersweet."

"I'm glad because he has hurt me a great deal," he said. "But I'm also very sad for the parishioners who this has all had such an effect on."

Hall said he didn't know why Tressic left, "But I would like to believe that the truth usually wins out."

Hall is represented by attorney John Aretakis, who praised his client's "courage and perseverance," in taking a stand against his alleged abuser.

Neither Tressic, nor his attorney Janet Charney, could be reached for comment.

Shortly before his ordination, Tressic said in a 1995 Times Union interview that the priesthood marked a return to a youthful dream, one he'd abandoned for marriage, two children and a career running his own automobile service station.

Tressic said he'd left the church for awhile, but after attending a retreat that his employees convinced him to attend he became more involved.

By the time he entered the seminary at Sacred Heart in 1990, Tressic said he was ready to say goodbye to the $12 million business in Danbury, Conn.

"To tell you the honest to God truth, I'm more at peace with myself now than I was before," he said at the time.


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