|Ex-Priest Begins Jail Term in Child-Abuse Case
By Alfonso A. Castillo
October 29, 2007
A Long Island mother smiled outside a Riverhead courtroom Monday, confident that four years after former Catholic priest Barry Ryan struck fear into her 5-year-old son's heart, Ryan now felt terrified as he began his 2-year jail sentence.
"He deserves to be scared," said the mother of the boy whom Ryan confessed to sexually abusing in 2003. Their names are being withheld to protect the boy's identity. "Now it's time for him to live looking over his shoulder, like my little guy had to do."
Ryan, 58, was formally sentenced in 2004 after pleading guilty to criminal sexual act charges. But because he was in the advanced stages of terminal liver cancer, Suffolk County Court Judge Ralph Gazzillo agreed to put off sending Ryan to jail for seven months. Doctors expected he would not live to see the inside of a jail cell.
Three years later, Ryan was still alive and his illness had stabilized, but Ryan had moved to Missouri, according to prosecutors. Gazzillo ordered an arrest warrant in August so Ryan could be returned to begin his sentence in New York. Assistant District Attorney Rosamaria Abbate said Ryan made "every attempt at delaying what was inevitable," including fighting his extradition.
Ryan appeared frail and gaunt when he was brought into the Riverhead courtroom in a wheelchair Monday. But while informing Gazzillo of the various medications he required, Ryan spoke far more clearly than the whisper he used three years ago at his sentencing.
Ryan reiterated to Gazzillo Monday that he was suicidal. The judge assured him he would receive the proper medical treatment and supervision in prison before telling court officers, "Execute the sentence."
Ryan's attorney, Joseph Ostrowsky of Brooklyn, said his client never exaggerated the seriousness of his condition, but said that the illness was "unpredictable." He said Ryan remains remorseful for his crimes.
"Them trying to make the excuse that he shouldn't be serving a sentence because of this illness is ludicrous to me," the victim's mother said. "I can't take that into consideration and I can't feel sorry for that."
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