Pain Remains for Priest Who Says He Was Abused As a Child
By Ariel Zangla
June 10, 2006
Schenectady - A Catholic priest said on Friday that he has suffered emotional, physical and spiritual pain from of being sexually abused as a child by a Greene County priest who earlier this year took a leave of absence from his parishes in Cairo and East Durham.
Accompanied by his attorney and flanked by other alleged victims, the Rev. Mark Jaufmann spoke during a news conference Friday in Schenectady about pain he said he has suffered as the result of sexual abuse by the Rev. Jeremiah Nunan and how he was disappointed by the lack of fairness and justice shown to him by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany.
He also said he hoped other victims of abuse would follow his lead and have the courage to come forward.
JAUFMANN, 49, said he was sexually abused by Nunan multiple times over the course of three years. He said the abuse started when he was 9 years old and a parishioner at St. Mary's Church in Hudson.
Jaufmann said the physical abuse he suffered from Nunan and the emotional abuse at the hands of his own father have caused a lot of the dysfunction in his life. He likened the abuse to the death of a victim's emotional and spiritual well-being.
Nunan took a leave of absence in February from his work as a Roman Catholic priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham. The allegations against him are being investigated by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program, or IMAP, which was created by the Diocese of Albany in 2004 to look into allegations of abuse against young people by current or former priests or deacons in the diocese.
JAUFMANN, who currently lives in California, said he was disappointed with the Diocese of Albany's handling of his case because he has not been allowed to present or discover evidence that would show Nunan abused other people. Also, he said, even though he filed a complaint with the city of Hudson police and the Albany County District Attorney's Office over two years ago, Nunan was allowed to remain in ministry.
Jaufmann said he also was disappointed with the diocese because while Nunan was given an in-person interview with the independent investigator from IMAP, he was not. He also questioned how the independent investigation could be fair when Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Diocese of Albany has final say over the ruling of the retired judge who will decide the case.
Also bothersome, Jaufmann said, is that other parishes where Nunan worked were not alerted to the allegations, something that might have compelled other victims to come forward.
"I am very dismayed and shocked that the leadership of a church that professes to be a strong advocate of compassionate love and justice can be a pillar of salt when it comes to the welfare of abuse victims," Jaufmann said. "This church that I love has so hurt me and others because it had an opportunity when this scandal first broke on the scene to live out the message of Jesus to bring healing. Sadly, it continues to fail miserably."
SCOTT Fein, a partner with the law firm Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, who is assisting the administrator of the Independent Mediation Assistance Program, said on Friday that IMAP offered on at least eight occasions, verbally and in writing, to have its investigator conduct an interview with Jaufmann and also offered to send the investigator to Los Angeles to meet with him.
"To date, the applicant's attorney has not agreed for his client to meet with the IMAP investigator," Fein wrote. "The process requires the cooperation of the applicant and his counsel."
Jaufmann, a priest with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion, said during Friday's news conference that the investigator offered to meet with him at 5 p.m., but Jaufmann's attorney, John Aretakis, later said the meeting might be held Monday morning instead.
THE REV. Kenneth Doyle, chancellor for public information at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, said the diocese was contacted by Jaufmann in January and immediately referred him to IMAP.
"He brought the matter to the diocese's attention in January 2006, and that's the first contact that we've ... had with him," Doyle said. He added that the diocese would take no further action on the matter until the investigation is completed.
Doyle also said he was unaware of any other complaints against Nunan.
Nunan currently is visiting relatives in Ireland, as he does every year, and is expected to return to upstate New York later this month, Doyle said.
ARETAKIS, Jaufmann's attorney, said the diocese was made aware of the complaint against Nunan two years ago, when police began to investigate it. He said the first thing the police would have done was call the diocese to find out where Nunan was and whether he still was ministering.
"Father Jaufmann is truly an extraordinary example because he was harmed at such a tender, tender age," Aretakis said. He also said that Jaufmann still wanting to be a priest shows the love he has for the church.
THE REV. Robert Hoatson, founder and president of Rescue & Recovery International, said he, too, was abused by a priest as a child, but unlike Jaufmann, he no longer is allowed to wear his collar. He said he was forced to go through the courts because the church refused to listen to him about the abuse he suffered. Hoatson said his bishop suspended him as a result.
Mark Lyman, Capital Region director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said: "If this were any other organization, we would be prosecuting. ... The Catholic church in New York state has been able to manipulate the legal system. Specifically, in Albany, we have the IMAP program, which is the fox monitoring the hen house."
Lyman said he is glad Jaufmann has stepped forward and hopes others will be inspired to do the same.
"The leadership of the church has to stand for truth if it is going to have any kind of moral or ethical credibility in this country," Jaufmann said.
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