Diocesan Critic Seeks $5M from Albany
Arrest during Holy Cross Protest Violated Civil Rights, Lawsuit Alleges
By Marc Parry
Albany Times Union
November 21, 2006
Albany -- A critic of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany who was arrested for protesting too near one of its churches is now suing the city for allegedly violating his civil rights.
The $5 million federal lawsuit concerns the arrest of Mark Lyman in April for allegedly violating a restraining order while protesting outside the Church of the Holy Cross.
The suit marks at least the third federal lawsuit filed against the city and the police department over the last month. The other two are unrelated cases and allege officers used excessive force against handcuffed prisoners.
Lyman, local director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), was charged on Palm Sunday with criminal contempt after police said he violated the restraining order by protesting too near the church. Prosecutors later withdrew the charges.
Lyman's lawsuit names as defendants the city of Albany, Mayor Jerry Jennings, Police Chief James Tuffey, and other current and former police officials. The Stillwater 42-year-old and his attorney believe Jennings and Tuffey were in cahoots with Bishop Howard Hubbard in the arrest. Tuffey arrived at the scene, they pointed out.
"It was excessive force," Lyman said, noting that he was handcuffed, fingerprinted and held for three hours. "The tactics that were used were meant to intimidate me and get me to stop protesting."
The Albany Diocese was "not involved in any manner with the arrest referred to in this claim," which does not name the diocese, spokesman Ken Goldfarb said. Tuffey said he happened to be passing the scene on the way to the gym when he saw the arrest.
"I haven't had any meetings whatsoever with the bishop on this, nor have I spoken to Mayor Jennings on this," he said.
John Reilly, corporation counsel for the city, said the lawsuit would be answered in court and it would not be "appropriate" to comment on the specific allegations.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares said in a July letter that his office was dropping the charges because Lyman's truck was actually in the designated protesting area.
The restraining order was issued in January after parishioners said they were confronted by protesters seeking the removal of the Western Avenue church's pastor, the Rev. Daniel J. Maher.
Lyman and other protesters claim Maher molested an altar boy in 1973. An investigation by the Albany diocese cleared the priest.
Marc Parry can be reached at 454-5057 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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