Perv Priest Bust

By Dan Mangan
New York Post [New York City]
Downloaded August 19, 2004

August 19, 2004 -- A Catholic priest allowed to remain on the job despite allegations he sexually abused two brothers in the 1970s was busted yesterday on charges he raped a young altar boy in Brooklyn four years ago, The Post has learned.

The Rev. Joseph Byrns, 61, who is barred from working as a priest, was taken into custody in upstate Oneonta and is expected to be arraigned today on charges linked to sexual abuse of the boy at his former parish, St. Rose of Lima Church in Kensington, law-enforcement sources said.

Byrns began to fondle the then 11-year-old in 2000, and moved on to sodomizing him, the sources said. He allegedly used threats as well as bribes of money and toys to keep the boy quiet about the molestation, which the sources said continued until 2002.

The indictment was handed up last week after the boy, now 15, and his father testified to a Brooklyn grand jury. The DA's Office refused to comment.

"As a father, I was devastated," said the boy's dad, a Haitian immigrant who now lives with his family in Florida. "To see a person that you trusted with your kids, the same person every Sunday you finish Mass, you're shaking his hand, the same person [then] do some act on your kids that's unbelievable."

The family's lawyers, Dean Freeman and Vidian Mallard, blasted the Brooklyn Diocese for allowing Byrns to stay on the job for more than five years after he was first accused of abusing kids.

In 1997, The Rev. Timothy Lambert and his brother, Robert, told the diocese that Byrns had molested them two decades earlier when they were kids in his parish in Douglaston, Queens. Byrns denied their claims and then-Bishop Thomas Daily took no action against the priest.

Diocese spokesman Frank DeRosa said that when the two came forward, the diocese did not know whether to believe their claims.

After the Lamberts went public in 2002, Daily at first allowed Byrns to continue working, but soon after suspended him. Byrns had most of his priestly powers permanently stripped last June by the diocese.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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