Uniondale Priest Accused of Molesting Man

By Luis Perez and Bart Jones
March 12, 2008,0,3823296,print.story

A priest who once called for reforming the Catholic Church amid the growing sex abuse scandal has been charged with molesting a man, months after he was accused of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy.

Gerald S. Twomey was arrested at his Uniondale home Wednesday afternoon, and within hours appeared handcuffed in a tweed sport coat in First District Court in Central Islip, facing charges of forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse, both misdemeanors.

According to a criminal complaint, Twomey fondled the man and put his "tongue in the mouth" of the victim. If found guilty, Twomey faces up to a year in jail.

Officials said the charges stemmed from an incident that occurred in a private home in 2006.

Twomey, 53, was released by Judge Richard I. Horowitz on the condition that he sign an order of protection for the victim. Twomey's next court date is May 1.

Twomey said nothing outside court. One of his attorneys, Larry Flowers of Huntington, said, "Father Twomey is completely innocent and we look forward to fighting these false accusations."

The allegations came as a blow to those who remember the once-popular priest. The Diocese of Rockville Centre suspended Twomey from his duties last year, amid accusations that he abused a 10-year-old boy at a Brentwood parish.

"This is heartbreaking," said former priest Tom St. Pierre, who was Twomey's co-pastor at the predominantly Latino parish of St. Anne Church in Brentwood, where the first abuse allegations originated.

St. Pierre, who knew Twomey for 28 years, said he was "one of the finest priests I have ever known. He was a dedicated, intelligent, hard-working priest" who delivered great homilies, spoke "impeccable" Spanish and put in 18-hour days.

St. Pierre noted that Twomey, who was ordained in 1981, also was outspoken in favor of reforms in the church after the sex abuse scandal broke out in 2002. He supported letting parishioners have more say in church matters, including the group Voice of the Faithful, who called for greater parishioner participation in the church.

One parishioner, attorney Greg Florentino, said the arraignment was "still an accusation. Being arraigned is not a conviction." But, he added, "It's not a good sign, obviously."

"He was extremely devoted to the parish and to his ministry," Florentino said.

The allegations leveled last year, first uncovered by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said Twomey abused a boy in 1994 and 1995 while at St. Anne's. The district attorney's office said then that even if the allegations were substantiated, the statute of limitations had expired so no criminal charge could be filed.



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