|Local Man Claims Childhood Molestation by Five Priests
By Dan Levy
August 16, 2011
ALBANY - A local man who says he was sexually abused by no less than five Catholic priests when he was a child, says he's still seeking justice decades later, even though, he admits, justice may never come.
The story that Michael DeSantis tells through flashbacks and suppressed memory is probably impossible to prove. For the five men accused of molesting him, it's impossible to prove they didn't do it. That's part of the reason the story is so troubling. That, and the fact that the accused men are all men of God.
Although his childhood pictures may seem like they portray a happy upbringing, Michael DeSantis says nothing could be father from the truth. DeSantis, now 34, who grew up in Colonie, says he was molested by five area priests over a period of years, beginning when he was nine years old.
"I trusted these men with everything," DeSantis says, "With my faith and with my upbringing."
Last fall, DeSantis filed a complaint with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, naming four priests: Father Alan Jupin, Father Donald Ophals, Father John Bertolucci, and Father Louis Douglas.
He says the abuse occurred inside Father Jupin's apartment at the Towers of Colonie on Sand Creek Road and also at Our Lady of Mercy Church.
"I'm not that nine year old kid any more who was afraid at the time to tell anybody," DeSantis says. "Now I'm 34 and I'm not afraid any more."
Just recently, DeSantis says he saw another priest, Father Carl Urban on television, and added him to the complaint, after recognizing his voice.
"When you're a sexual abuse survivor, you'll never forget the voice," DeSantis insists. "Past the voice, you can hear the breathing on how they would be with their satisfaction."
DeSantis insists the last thing he'd ever want to do is falsely accuse anyone. He says he's one hundred percent sure the five men he mentioned are the ones who abused him.
According to a written statement by the Albany diocese, Father Urban strongly denies the allegations. Urban, who retired in January, has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese investigates the charges.
"These men have almost took everything, but they haven't took my soul," DeSantis says.
With the alleged crimes well beyond the statute of limitations, and with seemingly nothing to gain, you may wonder why Michael DeSantis is coming forward now.
"I'm not looking for fifteen minutes of fame," he asserts, "I'm just trying to almost switch from a survivor to become and advocate. I would love to have each of them lined up where I can tell them how their abuse affected my life."
72-year old retired priest, Father Carl Urban, had been the longtime pastor at St. Adalbert in Schenectady. While on administrative leave he is prohibited from acting as a priest, celebrating mass, or wearing clerical garb.
Michael DeSantis' father is a former priest, who left the Albany diocese to marry and raise a family. DeSantis says his father supports him all the way.
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