|Accused Priest Will Leave Court When Alleged Victims Testify
By Edward Munger Jr.
January 6, 2009
FONDA — The man headed for trial on child sex abuse charges will leave the courtroom when the alleged victims testify later this month, attorneys agreed this morning.
John W. Broderick, 47, of Broome County, is facing three felony counts of second-degree sexual abuse and a misdemeanor count of unlawfully dealing with a child in an indictment handed up in September.
The indictment alleges Broderick had sexual contact with three children while he served as the Palatine Bridge family's "spiritual advisor" between October 2005 and May 2007. Broderick is a Roman Catholic priest who worked in the Syracuse Diocese.
Broderick appeared in Montgomery County Court this morning for a hearing on District Attorney James "Jed" Conboy's request that the three boys, ages 6, 10 and 12, be permitted to testify via a closed circuit television feed. But before arguments began, one of Broderick's attorneys, Ben Rogers, told Judge Felix Catena his client is willing to leave the courtroom during the childrens' testimony.
Conboy did not oppose the agreement, but argued later for the court to renew an order of protection that recently expired. In support of the order of protection, Conboy cited the childrens' fear "of any contact" with Broderick. Conboy also said a private investigator's continued phone calls to people involved in the case as well as Broderick's lawsuit against the family support his request for the temporary order of protection.
Broderick filed a civil lawsuit against the family in November, seeking $500,000 in damages for the loss of reputation and employment he allegedly suffered due to statements made by the family.
Broderick's other attorney, John J. Broderick, told Catena he felt the order of protection was not needed.
"I believe he's innocent. [The defendant Broderick] would never do anything to these kids under any circumstances," attorney Broderick said.
Catena agreed to issue the temporary order of protection, citing evidence presented to the grand jury. The order prohibits the defendant Broderick or anybody acting on his behalf from having any form of contact with the children until the end of the trial that's scheduled to begin Jan. 26.
Catena has yet to rule on a motion by the defense for a judicial order requesting documents on Broderick's history from the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese. The motion also seeks records from the Department of Social Services and from the childrens' schools.
Attorney John Aretakis, who is representing the family and children, said today he believes his clients will be intimidated by having to go into a courtroom environment for the second time - the first took place during grand jury proceedings.
"The way I see it is that this priest knows that if these little children ... have to walk in before a jury of 12 people and two alternates and a bunch of strangers in the front seats of the court, that they're going to be intimidated," Aretakis said.
"He wants them to be in a difficult and uncomfortable situation," Aretakis said.
Broderick and his attorneys declined comment on the case.
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