Albany Diocese Faces 33 New Sexual Abuse Claims
By Brendan J. Lyons
July 22, 2020
|Attorney Jeff Anderson, center, 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. Survivor Jeanne Marron, left, attorney Cynthia LaFave, second from left, and 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. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)Lori Van Buren/Albany Times Union|
ALBANY – More than 30 child sexual abuse complaints were filed Wednesday against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, including seven claims directed at a deceased Christian brother who had been assigned to Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbon High School in Schenectady in the 1960s and '70s, according to the filings.
The Child Victims Act complaints were filed in state Supreme Court in Albany by two law firms, Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave Wein & Frament, that have now filed 107 lawsuits against the Albany Diocese.
“We are honored to stand with these survivors in their pursuit of truth and accountability," Anderson said. “Until the diocese disgorges the secrets that it has kept hidden for decades, children remain at peril."
The filings increase to eight the number of CVA complaints filed against deceased Brother Clement Adan Murphy, C.F.C., who worked at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons.
Two complaints name Michael Scaringe, a registered sex offender from Cohoes. Those claims allege abuse in the 1970s at St. Helen and St. Paul the Apostle, two other Schenectady schools. Scaringe was a music teacher at both schools; in 1996, he was acquitted of sexually abusing a child at Bay Point Middle School in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he worked as a substitute band teacher, according to the court filings.
The complaints state that in 2012, Scaringe was convicted of sexually abusing a child connected to the Saranac Lake Youth Center in the Adirondacks, where he was the director. At his criminal trial, several survivors testified that Scaringe had sexually abused them as minors when he was a music teacher in the Tupper Lake Central School District. Scaringe served seven years in prison, the complaints state.
Two complaints allege abuse by Brother James Vincent Hanney, C.F.C., in the 1970s when he was working at Bishop Gibbons High School and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School. There are at least 12 lawsuits pending against Hanney.
Another complaint names former priest Frank Genevive, who in 2008 was convicted of sexually abusing multiple minors between approximately 1977 and 1989 while he was assigned to St. Anthony of Padua in Troy. Genevive died in 2014.
“Each of these filings represents another life irrevocably altered; not only by the perpetrator in question, but by the actions and inaction of the diocese," said Cynthia LaFave, an attorney for the plaintiffs. "I can think of no obligation more fundamental to the diocese’s avowed purpose than to regard and defend the safety of the human lives they purport to serve."
The Albany diocese faces more than 100 cases under under the Child Victims Act, which opened a one-year "look-back" period allowing survivors to file previously time-barred cases against individuals who had allegedly sexually abused them as children.
Due to court slowdowns and shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order extending by five months the CVA's one-year filing window, which was set to expire next month. New York legislators are urging Cuomo to approve a bill they passed calling for a one-year extension to give survivors an opportunity to come forward and file lawsuits. Many lawmakers said they are concerned there could be legal challenges over Cuomo's executive order and whether it can supersede the original CVA passed by the Legislature.
More than 2,200 cases have been filed under the CVA so far, according to state court data.
|Bishop Edward Scharfenberger is interviewed by the press ahead of a prayer service for sex abuse survivors at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, N.Y. on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)Lori Van Buren/Albany Times Union|