Staten Island Church Sued over Laicized Priest with Sex-abuse Conviction
By Maura Grunlund
October 17, 2019
|Daniel Calabrese formerly served as a priest at Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church in West Brighton, as seen in this photo from 1991. (Staten Island Advance/Steve Zaffarano)|
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- A priest allegedly sexually abused a teen at Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church prior to his conviction on sex charges for an incident involving a youth at a parish in Dutchess County, according to a lawsuit and Advance records.
The West Brighton parish and the Archdiocese of New York have been sued by an anonymous victim under the Child Victims Act in the lawsuit filed on Aug. 14 by Jeff Anderson & Associates.
Although not listed as a defendant, the lawsuit names Daniel Calabrese, a defrocked Roman Catholic priest, as the alleged abuser.
“From approximately 1989 to 1990, when Plaintiff was approximately 13 to 14 years old," then-Father Calabrese "engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with Plaintiff,” according to the lawsuit.
The victim, whose gender is not revealed in the filing, was a parishioner and student at the parish school, the lawsuit says.
“While the abuse occurred, Defendants were generally negligent, they negligently employed [Calabrese] and gave him access to children, including Plaintiff. This lawsuit arises out of Plaintiff’s significant damages from that sexual abuse...,” the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit goes on to claim that the Archdiocese and the parish knew or should have known of the abuse.
“Prior to the sexual abuse of Plaintiff, Defendants learned or should have learned that [Calabrese] was not fit to work with children," the lawsuit alleges. "Defendants, by and through their agents, servants and/or employees, became aware, or should have become aware of [Calabrese’s] propensity to commit sexual abuse and of the risk to Plaintiff’s safety. At the very least, Defendants knew or should have known that they did not have sufficient information about whether or not their leaders and people working at Blessed Sacrament and other Catholic institutions within the Archdiocese of New York were safe.”
Calabrese served at Blessed Sacrament beginning in 1989 and until at least 1991, according to Advance records. He was known for leading a group of Island teenagers on a weeklong sojourn into what then was an impoverished area of Frenchville, Pa. The youths farmed, did carpentry and cleaned for the residents of the depressed rural area, according to Advance records.
Calabrese’s name appeared on a list issued by the Archdiocese naming about 120 priests credibly accused of sex abuse against minors. Ordained in 1987, Calabrese was removed from ministry and laicized, according to the list from the Archdiocese.
Calabrese was transferred to two parishes in Dutchess County, Paul’s R.C. Church in Staatsburg and then St. Mary’s R.C. Church in Poughkeepsie in 1992.
Calabrese pleaded guilty in 1992 to sodomy charges in Poughkeepsie. The priest was charged in April of that year with sodomizing a 16-year-old boy after getting him drunk in his rectory apartment of St. Mary’s on March 7, 1992, according to Advance records.
Authorities did not allege there was force involved in the Poughkeepsie incident. The case against Calabrese was initiated with a complaint to the Dutchess County district attorney’s office, reportedly by the mother of the 16-year-old. The case then was referred to Poughkeepsie police, who subsequently arrested Calabrese.
He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and five years’ probation, according to Advance records.
Calabrese resigned from St. Mary’s and was sent to a treatment center for clergy in New Mexico. He was defrocked in 2005, according to media reports.
Public records indicate that Calabrese now is 58 years old and living in Tucson, Ariz.
The fall from grace is a stunning turn of events for the man who served crucial leadership roles on the Island and throughout the Archdiocese during more than 60 years in the priesthood. Monsignor Boyle, who has been removed from ministry, appeared on the Archdiocese’s list of about 120 priests credibly accused of sex abuse.