Diocese Assails Latest Charge against Cairo Priest
By W. T. Eckert
April 28, 2012
CATSKILL — During Tuesday's rally against a Cairo priest accused of sexually molesting a former alter boy and current inmate, unfounded accusations against the priest were made by a one of the protesters.
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) Western Regional Director Joelle Casteix said when 2006 sexual abuse allegations were filed against Father Jeremiah Nunan, the priest "absconded to Ireland where he hid until the victim in that case, Father Mark Jaufmann, died and the case was dropped."
That is blatantly untrue, Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany Director of Communications Ken Goldfarb said.
"There was an indication that he was purposely avoiding something by going to Ireland," Goldfarb said, "and the fact is he makes this trip every year and she used the word 'hid.' Everybody knew where he was."
Nunan traveled to Ireland in 2006, where he was born and has family, Goldfarb said, and it is at the understanding of the Diocese that he has traveled there annually for more than 40 years.
Nunan spent approximately one month in Ireland during that trip and returned to the Albany Diocese before the investigation of the earlier allegation was concluded.
Goldfarb said the trip did not in any way affect the course of the investigation. Nunan was on administrative leave at the time and was instructed not to officiate at Mass or other sacraments or present himself publicly as a priest.
"Albany Diocese Bishop Howard Hubbard notified the presiding bishop in Ireland of Nunan's travel plans," Goldfarb said. "The Diocesan Review Board determined, in January 2007, that there were no reasonable grounds to believe the 2006 allegation. This decision came after Nunan had returned to the Diocese, and more than a year before the March 2008 death of the individual who made the allegation."
The 2006 charges were brought by a Father Mark Jaufmann, a priest with Ecumenical Catholic Communion in California.
Jaufmann was found dead on a trail in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, Ca. on March 21, 2008, over a year after the investigation, conducted by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program, an agency established by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to provide assistance to those who were sexually abused by a current or former priest, exonerated Nunan of those allegations.
"We're just interested in clarifying the history here so that it is clear how this matter was dealt with when the first allegation came forward," Goldfarb said, "and in no way is that to reflect that we view every allegation as serious and has to be investigated properly."
Casteix apologized for the comment and said she was mistaken in her information.
"My primary goal in being there was to support the family," Casteix said, "and if what I said was based upon inaccurate information then I sincerely apologize and I will do my best to clarify."