|Victims Too Late in Allegations against Brooklyn Priest
By Ryan Thompson
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
January 7, 2008
NEW YORK After recently accusing a former Brooklyn priest of molesting them decades ago, three brothers, as well as a New York City attorney, must accept that the law will absolve the Father of his alleged sins.
Father George Zatarga, of the Diocese of Brooklyn, cannot be prosecuted for his purported crimes from years ago; the statute of limitations has run its course. The men had five years to formerly accuse the man they say inappropriately touched them during Zatarga's "counseling" sessions.
New York Criminal Procedure Law states that the statute of limitations regarding these types of sexual offenses is five years. However, if the victim is under the age of 18, that five-year period begins to run when the victim turns 18 years old, or when the victim reported the crime to a law enforcement agency or statewide central registry of child abuse whichever occurred first.
In the case of Zatarga, also a former priest at St. Gertrude's in Rockaway and a chaplain at the Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens, it appears that his alleged victims were young men in their late teens and early 20s. Regardless of age, it has been far beyond five years since both the alleged crime and the alleged victims' 18th birthdays.
It wasn't until recently, when one of the men's sons was offered "counseling" sessions from Zatarga, that the now-46-year-old electrical technician went to church leaders, according to interviews given to the New York Daily News. The priest was then placed on administrative leave last year after he admitted to "inappropriate behavior" and is now in a counseling program at a religious institute in Maryland, sources told the Daily News.
The only crimes Zatarga can be charged with are in connection to allegations made by an 18-year-old male who Zatarga apparently brought to his home near Saratoga Springs in Upstate New York last year. Saratoga County law enforcement officials and the state police are investigating.
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