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  3 More Say Oswego Priest Abused Them Men Say Incidents with Furfaro Occurred in 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

By Mike McAndrew
Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)
May 7, 2002

Three more men are accusing Monsignor Francis Furfaro of molesting them as children and want him removed from the priesthood.

With the new allegations, the retired 84-year-old priest has been accused of having sexual contact with five minors during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1980s while he served as pastor at St. Joseph Church in Oswego.

Last month, two other men accused Furfaro of molesting them as minors.

"He doesn't deserve to be a priest," said one of the new accusers, former Syracuse resident Charles DeCarlo Sr., 68.

In the clergy sexual abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church in America, Furfaro is one of few Syracuse diocese priests facing public accusations.

In addition to seeking Furfaro's removal from the priesthood, the three new accusers said they want Furfaro's name removed from the St. Joseph Parish Center in Oswego and want Furfaro to publicly apologize to his victims.

Bishop James Moynihan said he was deeply disturbed to hear of the new allegations.

"Although this news is very painful, I am committed to helping those who have

been harmed so they can either begin or continue their healing," the bishop

said. "I wrote a letter in February stating that I would not tolerate this behavior in the Diocese of Syracuse and if anyone had been harmed to please come forward. I ask these individuals to please contact me so I may hear directly what the accusations are and take appropriate action."

Furfaro, who lives in Camillus, hung up on a reporter who called for comment.

His attorney, Emil Rossi, declined to comment.

"I don't want it to be interpreted that we're admitting these things. I just don't think this is the proper forum for the discussion," Rossi said. "If anybody brings a scintilla of credible evidence that he did something wrong at a time that is within the statute of limitations, I'll answer in detail."

Furfaro's new accusers include:

Former Oswego resident Daniel Donahue says Furfaro grabbed him by the crotch on numerous occasions around 1962-1964 at the St. Joseph rectory when he was 15 to 18 years old.

Years later, Donahue, who is now 55, says Furfaro had sexual contact with him as an adult in the St. Joseph rectory, when he sought counseling from Furfaro because his marriage was breaking up.

Anthony J. DiCriscio Jr., 55, of Oswego, says Furfaro stuck his hands inside DiCriscio's pants around 1953 when DiCriscio was 6 years old.

DeCarlo says Furfaro unexpectedly climbed into bed with him around 1949 - Furfaro's first year at St. Joseph - and attempted to have anal sex with him.

DeCarlo was about 15 and a guest at the rectory, he says.

Diocese spokeswoman Danielle Cummings said the three men have not contacted diocesan officials.

She said the diocese would question Furfaro about any new allegations. The diocese could send him to a clinic for psychological counseling if the allegations are deemed credible, she said.

But she said she did not know if Moynihan would consider having Furfaro removed as a priest.

Moynihan has not discussed taking Furfaro's name off the St. Joseph Parish Center.

"That's a parish decision. It was a parish decision to put the name on the building," Cummings said.

The St. Joseph Church parish center was named after Furfaro around 1992, said the Rev. James Cesta, pastor.

Cesta said he thought the majority of St. Joseph's worshippers don't mind Furfaro's name on the building.

"I've only heard from one person who wanted it removed," he said.

He said he'd do "whatever the will of the people is."

The three new accusers said they never told Syracuse diocese officials or law enforcement authorities about Furfaro's conduct.

"It was very shameful and embarrassing," Donahue explained. "You think someone would think you're gay, or it's your fault."

The three men told The Post-Standard of their contact with Furfaro after two other men accused Furfaro of molesting them as minors in a story the paper published April 14.

In that story, Furfaro admitted to having sexual contact with Jon Mosley, a teen-ager whom he counseled after Mosley's sister died in 1987.

"He was the only one," said Furfaro, who retired as pastor of St. Joseph Church in 1991.

Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Costello said Mosley made a credible sexual abuse allegation against Furfaro in December 1998.

That was the first sex allegation against Furfaro brought to the diocese's attention, Cummings said.

The diocese sent Furfaro to St. Luke Institute in Maryland for psychiatric treatment and paid Mosley about $75,000 to settle his complaint.

Cummings would not say if any other victims have complained about Furfaro to the diocese since 1998.

Oswego County District Attorney Dennis Hawthorne said that in the past seven years he has interviewed several people who said they were sexually abused by Furfaro.

His office did not prosecute Furfaro because none of the alleged misdeeds fell within the state's statute of limitations for sex crimes, Hawthorne said.

In New York, a suspect generally can be charged with a sex crime up to five years after the crime was committed. The state legislature in 1996 extended the statute of limitations on sex crimes committed after Aug. 1, 1996. Suspects in sex crimes committed after that date may be prosecuted until the victim turns 23.

"I think it's a high probability there's more victims out there," Hawthorne said.

The three accusers interviewed by The Post-Standard said they hope their decision to talk about Furfaro will prompt other clergy sex abuse victims to report their abuser to law enforcement authorities.

DeCarlo

DeCarlo said he met Furfaro in the 1940s while attending Grant Junior High in Syracuse's North Side. After school, DeCarlo, an altar server, went to Our Lady of Pompei Church for religious instruction. Furfaro was his teacher, he said.

Furfaro treated him like a pal, taking him to Syracuse Nats and LeMoyne College basketball games, DeCarlo said.

After Furfaro moved to Oswego in 1949, DeCarlo said Furfaro invited him to an overnight visit at his St. Joseph rectory.

"I remember at nighttime when I went to bed, he jumped in bed (with me)," said DeCarlo, who lives in Las Vegas. "I kicked him out of the bed."

Priests were so highly regarded that he didn't dare tell his parents or anyone else, DeCarlo said.

DeCarlo said he put Furfaro out of his mind after he enlisted in the military in 1952 and moved from the Syracuse area.

When news of the priest sexual abuse scandal in Boston broke, DeCarlo said he started thinking daily about Furfaro, and he began feeling anxious.

DeCarlo said he will travel this week to Syracuse to meet Marianne Barone-Trent, an Oswego woman who sued the diocese in 1991 after she said her sons were abused by another Oswego Catholic priest, the late Rev. Daniel W. Casey.

Barone-Trent received $150,000 from the diocese in 1998 to settle her suit against Casey.

"I really would like to face Furfaro," DeCarlo said. "To just look at him and say, "Do you remember me? Do you remember what you did to me in your rectory."'

Donahue

Furfaro was close to Donahue's deceased brother, David, according to Daniel Donahue.

The monsignor gave David Donahue gifts of a camera, radio, golf clubs and jewelry, Daniel Donahue said.

In 1961, when David Donahue was 18, he and another teen-age boy died in a crash in a car David had borrowed from Furfaro, according to Donahue and three newspaper accounts of the crash.

Shortly after that, Daniel Donahue said he started hanging out daily at the St. Joseph rectory with about a dozen other teen-agers. Donahue said he was about 15. In a hut behind the rectory, he and his friends played pool and drank beer Furfaro kept for them, he said.

"He groped me a couple times. He grabbed me in the crotch outside the pants. He'd reach down there and fondle you a little. I'd push him away," Donahue said. "It was always when you were alone. He probably did it 10 times."

Years later, around 1970, Donahue said he went to Furfaro for counseling because his marriage was falling apart, he was drinking too much and he felt suicidal.

Instead of helping him, Furfaro gave him a few drinks and masturbated Donahue in a bed at the rectory, Donahue said.

For decades, he never told the police or anyone else.

About two years ago, Donahue told his secret to a family friend, Sue Sweet.

Sweet, a Catholic youth minister in Oswego, and Barone-Trent, have been pressuring the diocese for years to investigate Furfaro.

Sweet urged him to accuse Furfaro in public.

Donahue, who lives in Fargo, N.D., said he isn't going to sue the diocese.

DiCriscio

Anthony DiCriscio Jr. said Furfaro molested him once, when he was about 6, around 1953.

He said his parents frequently invited Furfaro to their house for dinner. One night, he was alone in his back yard with Furfaro, and the priest put his hands down the front of DiCriscio's pants, DiCriscio said.

He said he went inside and told his mother what happened. His mom told him that Furfaro must have been just tickling him, DiCriscio said.

DiCriscio said he never told anyone else until the media began reporting on the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

DiCriscio, DeCarlo and Donahue have told their stories to a New York City private investigator, former FBI agent Joseph F. O'Brien.

Sandy Smith, a St. Joseph Church parishioner, hired O'Brien in February to investigate rumors about Furfaro.

O'Brien said he has talked with eight men who claim to be Furfaro victims.

Several weeks ago, O'Brien requested a meeting with Moynihan to discuss the allegations, O'Brien said, but the bishop has not responded.

TIMELINE: MONSIGNOR FRANCIS J. FURFARO

1941-49: Furfaro is associate pastor at Our Lady of Pompei, Syracuse.

1949: Furfaro becomes pastor at St. Joseph Church, Oswego

1949: Charles DeCarlo Sr. says Furfaro molested him once

1953: Anthony DiCriscio Jr. says Furfaro molested him once

1962-64: Dan Donahue says Furfaro molested him multiple times

Late 1960s: Peter Losurdo III says Furfaro molested him once

Approx. 1970: Donahue says Furfaro has sexual contact with him when he seeks counseling.

Late 1980s: Jon Mosley says Furfaro sexually abused him

1984: Governor appoints Furfaro to College Council of State University of New York at Oswego

1991: Furfaro retires from active ministry

1992: Furfaro serves as temporary administrator at St. Louis Church, Oswego

1993: Furfaro loses election, ends 21 years on Oswego school board

1996-1997: Furfaro serves as temporary administrator at Immaculate Conception Church, Fulton

1998: Diocese says it received its first sex abuse complaint against Furfaro, from Mosley. Diocese sends Furfaro to St. Luke Institute for counseling.

1999: Diocese pays Mosley about $75,000 to settle complaint about Furfaro

2000: Furfaro's second term on College Council at SUNY Oswego expires

 
 

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