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  Sisters Allege Maine Priest Molested Them
Keating to Serve during Investigation

By Nancy Dooling
Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY)
January 23, 2004

Three sisters allege in a lawsuit filed Thursday that a Town of Maine priest sexually molested them while he served a Cortland parish 20 years ago.

The Rev. Thomas Keating, priest at Most Holy Rosary Church in Maine since 1993, will continue to celebrate Mass at the church while the diocese investigates the allegations, said Danielle Cummings, a spokeswoman for the Syracuse Diocese, which includes Broome County.

"We don't have enough information at this point," the spokeswoman said. Keating has denied the allegations, she added.

A diocesan review board is looking into the allegations and will report their findings to Bishop James Moynihan, Cummings said.

"We can't remove a man who has committed his life to the church without investigating the allegations," Cummings said. She urged anyone with information to come forward, either by contacting the diocese or civil authorities. She said none of the three sisters had spoken with diocesan representatives.

A parishioner at Most Holy Rosary Church was reluctant to comment on the lawsuits. Waneta Griffin said Keating has been open and honest with parish members about the accusations. "He's been a faithful pastor, and a faithful friend," she said.

Keating, who was out of town, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Karen Hansen, 34, Amy Hansen, 33, and Kristin Hansen, 35, say they were molested by Keating when they were between the ages of 11 and 13 from 1982 to 1985 at St. Mary's Church in Cortland, said their Albany-based attorney, John Aretakis.

Keating was a priest at the parish in the 1980s, records indicate. Two of the sisters live in Florida; the third lives in Westchester County.

All three left the church, Aretakis said. They've also had problems with relationships and have lost their trust in men, he said. They've named Keating, Moynihan and the Syracuse diocese in the lawsuit, which claims church officials concealed Keating's alleged criminal sexual conduct. They are seeking an unspecified amount of monetary damages.

It's not the first time someone has accused Keating of wrongdoing. A Syracuse-area woman filed a lawsuit last March that accused Keating of not taking action on allegations the woman made to him about another priest sexually molesting her. She also claimed that Keating had mild sexual contact with her in 1982 at St. Mary's Church, court documents indicate. Diocesan officials said in March that Keating would remain at his post.

Aretakis, who has represented more than 50 alleged priest sex-abuse victims, said he's outraged that Keating has been allowed to continue celebrating Mass at Most Holy Rosary Church.

"How many more victims need to come forward?" he asked. "I implore Bishop Moynihan to go home tonight and read the story of David versus Goliath, and see how that version came out."

 
 

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