Unholy Way to Turn Gay - Heir to Sue Rev. for '60s Abuse

By Dan Mangan
New York Post
October 12, 2005

A debonair New York socialite filed a $5 million legal notice against the Catholic Church yesterday - claiming his molestation at age 7 at the hands of a young priest led him to become gay.

J. David Enright IV - a scion of Albany's renowned Van Rensselaer and de la Grange families - told The Post he was repeatedly sexually abused by the Rev. Joseph Romano, a seminarian counselor at upstate Camp Tekawitha on Lake Luzerne, in 1961 and 1962.

"I believe that my life would be very different now," said Enright, 51, dressed in a custom-made English suit and French cuffed shirt. "I'd probably be married, living in Greenwich, with four children in boarding school.

"Romano bent my life."

The Upper East Side resident said Romano, then 21, took him behind a cabin after dinner and evening prayers and engaged in sex. The molestation was repeated up to seven more times, extending into the following summer, Enright said.

He'd "explain to me that this was a rite of passage," said Enright, who recalls the "devastating" abuse every day of his life.

Enright made his mark in New York City as a young ad man. In 1982, he landed a $5 million annual account for David Merrick's Broadway production of "42nd Street."

"I had a completely straight life in business, socially on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue," he said, noting that he dated women in the 1980s. "Then there was the other world, which was slinking around in Greenwich Village gay bars, finding mates."

Enright for years believed he might have been Romano's only victim, but became angry last month when he learned the 65-year-old retired priest, who now lives in disgrace in Florida, may have molested two other children.

A newspaper article revealed that although Romano was suspended by the Albany Diocese in 2003 over the allegations, he is currently seeking restoration of his priestly powers.

Enright believes Romano should be defrocked. Enright yesterday filed a notice of claim in Manhattan Supreme Court naming Romano, Bishop Howard Hubbard and the Albany Diocese as defendants in a planned lawsuit.

Diocese spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb said that the diocese will investigate Enright's allegations, but noted that his claims predate Hubbard's tenure as bishop. Romano couldn't be reached for comment.


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