Li Teen Sues Catholic Church over Sex Abuse Claim
News 12 Long Island
October 16, 2018
The Catholic Church is being sued by a teen who says she was sexually abused by a former choir director.
The alleged victim says Efrain Villafane repeatedly abused her on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in North Patchogue back in 2015.
The lawsuit claims church workers ignored safeguards meant to protect kids.
Villafane pleaded guilty to rape in 2017, and was sentenced to 10 years’ probation.
The lawsuit says that Villafane often told the girl, "If you tell your mother or anyone, I will take you down with me." It goes on to say she didn't report the abuse for a long time because she was confused, embarrassed, ashamed and fearful.
The suit also states that when Father Benet Uwasomba eventually became aware of the allegations and told the girl, "I don't want another scandal to get out. Only tell me. I will take care of this."
At one point it says the Patchogue teen wrote to Bishop John Barres, the Diocese of Rockville Centre, and even met him in person, when it says she disclosed the abuse to him and told him what Father Benet had said as well.
Father Benet was transferred to another parish in 2017.
A spokesman for the diocese says as soon as it learned that police were investigating Villafane in 2016, it contacted the district attorney's office and cooperated fully with the investigation. It also said that the diocese has and continues to offer counseling to the survivor and her family during this difficult ordeal.