Owego Priest, Accused of Child Sex Abuse, Won't Speak at Priests" Conference
By Katie Sullivan
June 13, 2018
Tioga County priest Rev. Thomas Valenti has asked to take time away from his pastoral duties, days after a Boston attorney named him as one of eight clergy members accused of sexually abusing children in the Diocese of Rochester between 1950 and 1978.
On Wednesday, Doug Mandelaro, director of stewardship and communications for the Diocese of Rochester, confirmed Valenti has asked "to be relieved of his pastoral duties at this time in order to address this matter."
Valenti currently serves as the parochial administrator at Blessed Trinity — that includes St. James Church in Waverly, St. John in Newark Valley and St. Margaret Mary in Apalachin — as well as St. Patrick's parish in Owego.
Bishop Salvatore Matano said he granted Valenti's request during a visit to the Tioga County parishes on June 10, according to the statement from the diocese. The Diocese previously said it had investigated the allegation and that an independent review board had determined it to be unsubstantiated.
Valenti's name appears on a list that attorney Mitchell Garabedian gathered from the testimony of 15 men and two women and on June 6, he called on the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester to release records it may hold concerning allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy.
It is time, Garabedian said, for "the church to stop these evil acts."
Victims now between the ages of 52 and 77, Garabedian said, approached him over the past six months and said they were abused by the priests when they were children.
Garabedian rose to prominence representing survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Boston area in 1990s and 2000s. He was portrayed by actor Stanley Tucci in the Oscar-winning film "Spotlight," which chronicled the case. He recently has worked with people in Syracuse and Buffalo who made similar allegations there.
Garabedian said Valenti is accused of abuse beginning when he was a deacon and continuing into his priesthood at St. Mary's of the Lake Church in Ontario, New York.
A native of Rochester, Valenti was ordained a priest in 1976, served as an associate pastor at Blessed Sacrament church in Rochester and worked for many years as the director of vocations for the Diocese of Rochester, as well as serving at Holy Apostles Church in Rochester, St. Louis in Pittsford, Church of Notre Dame in New York City and St. John the Baptist Church in Yonkers, according to assignment records.
Mitchell.jpg Mitchell Garabedian, center, flanked by Robert Hoatson, left, and James Faluszczak, right, hold a press conference on Diocese of Rochester priests accused of abuse. (Photo: SHAWN DOWD/@sdowdphoto/, SHAWN DOWD/@sdowdphoto/staff)
He also served as Catholic chaplain of Ithaca College, football team chaplain and director of the team’s community outreach for Columbia University.
In a statement, Mandelaro said the allegation against Valenti was investigated in 2003, according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and determined to be unsubstantiated by an independent review board "of those competent in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology."
"No further complaints of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Valenti have ever been received," the statement said.
Bishop Matano told local parishioners the revival of this past allegation "is painful for everyone concerned and traumatic for anyone involved, certainly including these faith communities and Father Valenti."
|St. Patrick's Church in Owego is one of four churches included in Blessed Trinity Parish & St. Patrick Parish. (Photo: Maggie Gilroy / Staff photo)|
The Diocese said Valenti, "out of concern for the parishioners and that they are not adversely affected, has asked to be relieved of his pastoral duties at this time in order to address this matter."
Valenti had been listed as a speaker for the upcoming Priests, Deacons, Seminarians Retreat on June 18-22 as part of Steubenville Conferences, an outreach of Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.
On Wednesday, the university's public relations manager, Tom Sofio, released a statement: "In light of concerns that were raised, all sides agreed that Father Tom Valenti will not speak at the Priests, Deacons and Seminarians Retreat this year."