Diocese Asking for Reports of '80s Abuse
By Dennis M. Mahoney
November 29, 2006
The Columbus Roman Catholic Diocese is urging people to report any abuse by a priest who served in the diocese in the 1980s.
Robin Miller, spokeswoman for the diocese, said in a statement yesterday that pastors at St. Patrick Church in Columbus and Holy Trinity Church in Somerset in Perry County will tell parishioners of abuse accusations already made against the Rev. Aaron Cote.
Parishioners will be urged to report any new allegations to the diocese's victim-assistance coordinator, Monsignor Stephan Moloney, and to law-enforcement authorities, she said.
Cote, a Dominican priest, has been accused of sexually abusing a teenager while Cote was pastor at Holy Trinity from 1987 to 1989. Now an adult, the accuser told a former teacher of the abuse in 2005, but he has been unwilling to discuss it with authorities.
The allegation came to light when the teacher sent a letter to Cote's superiors in New York. The Columbus Diocese was informed of the allegation by the Dominicans, Miller said.
Cote served at St. Patrick for a year before going to Somerset.
Cote also has been sued by a 19-year-old former Maryland man, who says Cote abused him in 2001 and 2002 at a parish in Germantown, Md. The priest has been on leave since the lawsuit was filed a year ago.
The diocese's review board, which examines sex-abuse cases, has been told of the allegation, Miller said. However, it is unlikely the board will consider the case since Cote is no longer serving here, she said, and any action that might be taken against him rests with his religious order.
The Perry County sheriff's office is looking into the allegation against Cote. Maryland authorities have never charged him but also are continuing their investigation.
Miller said Moloney can be reached at 614-224-2251 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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