Ex-Altar Boy Says He Was Abused

By Robert Ingrassia
Daily News
April 11, 2002

Another former altar boy came forward yesterday with a sexual abuse allegation against the Rev. James Smith, a Queens pastor suspended last month after accusations he molested three youngsters.

Jack Sullivan, 52, of upstate Poughkeepsie, said Smith molested him in 1964 in the rectory of Our Lady of Grace Church in Howard Beach, Queens.

"He gave me the spiel he gave all the boys about my body going through changes," Sullivan, a tax compliance officer who works for a state agency, told the Daily News. "Then he pushed me to the floor."

Sullivan said Smith got on top of him and fondled his buttocks. "He said this would be our little secret," Sullivan said. Worked in rectory At the time, Sullivan was 14 years old. He said he was earning $1 per hour answering phones a few evenings a week in the rectory.

"Father Smith was a beloved parish priest," Sullivan said. "The kids loved him."

Before being relieved of his duties, Smith, 71, was pastor at St. Kevin's Church in Flushing, Queens.

Smith also was a part-time clerk for the Queens district attorney's office, where he started as a volunteer in the mid-1980s and eventually became a paid staffer.

About a month ago, three men told Manhattan lawyer Michael Dowd that the priest abused them in the early 1970s at Holy Trinity Church in Whitestone, Queens.

Since news of Smith's suspension came out this week, more than 10 other men who say they were his victims, including Sullivan, have phoned Dowd.

Smith's parish learned of his suspension Sunday in a letter from Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily. The letter said Smith was sent to a center for "psychological counseling and physical care."

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, who is seeking information on past abuse allegations from the diocese, fired Smith from his clerical job after learning of the accusations against him.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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