Ex-maspeth Priest Molested Girls: Lawyer
By Christopher BarcaChristopher Barca
October 5, 2017
More than a dozen women have come forward in recent weeks to accuse a former Maspeth priest of molesting them as children decades ago.
Prominent attorney Mitchell Garabedian told the Chronicle in a Tuesday interview that 15 women claim that former Holy Cross Church pastor the Rev. Adam Prochaski sexually abused them at some point between 1973 and 1994.
“Father Prochaski was sexually abusing innocent children for more than two decades,” Garabedian said. “My clients are very courageous for coming forward.”
According to the Daily News, which broke the story, Prochaski was first assigned to Holy Cross in 1969. Garabedian said the abuse began four years later and occurred not just at the church, but at the parish’s now-defunct school and other locations.
“Sex abuse happened at school, in Holy Cross Church, in the rectory next door and in some of the children’s homes, as well as the father’s,” the attorney said. “In many cases, his abuse was open, notorious and in plain view.”
The ages of his alleged victims, many of them Polish immigrants, ranged from just 5 years old to 16, he added.
The allegations finally graduated from whispered rumors in 1990, when former Holy Cross teacher Linda Porcaro said seven of the priest’s alleged victims told her what had happened to them.
“So I immediately went to the principal at the time, but I was told that everyone knew about Father P. She laughed,” Porcaro said in a Tuesday interview. “I was supposed to forget about it because everyone knew.”
Porcaro left the school shortly afterwards, but kept in touch with the victims — who are now between 37 and 54 — over the years. In August, she said she saw an anonymous post on Facebook that advised anyone with with information about the priest’s past to call Garabedian.
The lawyer represented many of those sexually abused by priests in Boston a decade ago.
That scandal was famously unearthed by a team of Boston Globe investigative reporters and portrayed in the 2015 Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight,” with popular actor Stanley Tucci playing Garabedian.
“I called him and told him everything I knew, who the girls were and what they told me,” Porcaro said. “I’ve been trying to make this right for 30 years. As this all came out, women have started to contact me, even some from 10 years before I taught there.”
Thinking back to the days spent with Prochaski at the school and church, Porcaro said she noticed him multiple times standing at the bottom of staircases, staring up girls’ skirts as they ascended the stairs.
“He was 6-feet, 4-inches tall and not thin. He was intimidating to a little child,” she said. “He would also constantly take pictures. He had a hobby of photographing candidly anyone he could.”
The Diocese of Brooklyn told the Daily News that Prochaski left the priesthood in 1994, soon after the allegations were reported to the religious organization.
The NYPD and the District Attorney’s Office have launched investigations into the claims, and Garabedian said he is working on getting his clients enrolled in the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program — a fund for victims of sexual abuse committed by clergymembers.
“While no amount of money can heal the scars of abuse, we hope the program can help with the healing process and provide some element of closure,” diocesan spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad told the Daily News. “Our intention is to show solidarity with victims.”
Garabedian credited Porcaro with helping the victims work up the strength to report the abuse they suffered, calling her a “hero.” But the former teacher said all she wants is justice for her former students.
“They’re my kids. They will always be my kids,” she said. “I’m not a hero. This isn’t heroic. I’m just doing what’s right.”