Third lawsuit accuses former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard of sex abuse
By Cayla Harris
October 8, 2019
|Bishop Howard Hubbard speaks to the Times Union on his last official day as the Bishop of the Albany Diocese Wednesday afternoon April 9, 2014, in his new office at the Pastoral Center in Albany, N.Y.|
|Attorney Jeff Anderson, left, points to a list of perpetrators in the Diocese of Albany as he announces 20 lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese on the first day the Child Victims Act at the Hilton Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. Survivors Bridie Farrell and Mark Lyman stand at right. The act allows a one-year period for claims to be filed regardless of the age of the plaintiff.|
Photo by Lori Van Buren
|ERASTUS CORNING II--Mayor of Albany, left, with Bishop Howard Hubbard.|
|Filed cases in the Diocese of Albany is shown as Jeff Anderson announces 20 lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese on the first day the Child Victims Act at the Hilton Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. The act allows a one-year period for claims to be filed regardless of the age of the plaintiff.|
Photo by Lori Van Buren
A third lawsuit accusing retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of sexual abuse was filed Thursday in state Supreme Court in Albany.
The latest complaint accuses the former longtime leader of the Albany Diocese and another priest of abusing a teenage boy at a Troy church between 1976 and 1978 but does not provide details of the alleged sexual abuse.
The second priest is identified in the court filing as Joseph Mato, though the Times Union could not determine if a priest by that name served at St. Michael's in the late 1970s. Mary DeTurris Poust, a spokeswoman for the Albany Diocese, said she could not confirm that the diocese employed a man by that name, though a priest with a similar name did work at St. Michael's during that period. That priest died in 2016.
"Because of his childhood abuse, plaintiff ... is unable to fully describe all of the details of that abuse and the extent of the harm that he suffered as a result," the lawsuit states. It adds that Hubbard and the other priest allegedly used their roles to "entice" and "take control of" the plaintiff and sexually assault him.
The plaintiff, now 59 and a resident of Oneida County, and his attorneys could not be reached for comment. The Times Union is not identifying him because he is an alleged victim of sexual abuse.
He would have been about 16 to 18 years old during the time of the alleged abuse, which the complaint said occurred at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Troy.
Hubbard did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Hubbard has previously denied allegations that he assaulted children – or knew of any ongoing abuse – while leading the Albany Diocese. A case filed in August alleged the bishop had abused a teenage boy in the 1990s, while a second lawsuit filed in September claimed Hubbard and two other Albany priests – Francis P. Melfe and Albert DelVecchio, both now deceased – repeatedly assaulted a teenage girl in the late 1970s.
Ann Hurley, Hubbard's attorney, said the bishop is aware of the lawsuit filed this week but denies the claim. At the time of the alleged abuse, Hubbard was not at all affiliated with St. Michael's, she said.
Hubbard served as the Albany Diocese's vicar general from 1976 to 1977 before he was appointed as bishop.
Hurley added that the plaintiff has previously lodged allegations of sexual abuse against several priests in multiple dioceses – and had even brought forth his claim against Hubbard to the Albany Diocese in the early 2000s. She said the diocese's review board investigated the accusation – which also included more specific claims than those included in the lawsuit – and did not find them credible.
Hurley declined to say what specific allegations the plaintiff had brought forth in the early 2000s and to identify the other dioceses where the man has accused priests of wrongdoing.
"The bishop recognizes and realizes that many of these complainants have suffered and are suffering, but at the same time, in terms of at whose hand they suffered, Bishop Hubbard is not the person who has inflicted these sufferings on these people," Hurley said.
DeTurris Poust, the spokeswoman for the Albany Diocese, confirmed that the diocese's independent review board had previously investigated the plaintiff's accusations and "found no reasonable grounds to sustain the allegations."
"We will not have any further comment as Review Board investigations are confidential and because the matter is currently in litigation," she said.
She declined to say how many times the board has considered accusations of sexual abuse against Hubbard. The internal investigation of the plaintiff's claims had not previously been made public.
DeTurris Poust deferred to Hubbard for comment on the new allegation but has previously called accusations against the former bishop "deeply troubling."
Shortly after the first complaint was filed, Hubbard said he would stop performing priestly duties until the allegations were resolved. Hubbard served as bishop of the diocese for 37 years before retiring in 2014.
All three cases were filed under the Child Victims Act, which went into effect in August and temporarily eliminates the statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse to sue their alleged abusers in civil court. As of Monday, more than 800 cases have been filed under the law, and the Albany Diocese has been named in dozens of claims.