Siblings Sue RVC Diocese, Bishop William Murphy
Family Members File $25m Suit, Saying Priest Abused Them As Kids, and Hoping Other Victims Come Forward
By Eden Laikin
January 12, 2006
Five siblings have started a $25-million lawsuit against the Diocese of Rockville Centre and Bishop William Murphy, alleging that a Long Island priest abused them repeatedly when they were children.
A summons filed Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Mineola says the Rev. Daniel Babis, who died in 1978, abused Richard Regan, his sister JoAnn and three unnamed siblings.
"Filing the suit is a way of getting the attention of the church and to help other victims of Babis come forward," said Richard Regan, 62, of Penn Yan, N.Y., near Rochester.
JoAnn Regan, of Hamburg, Germany, said she felt she had "no choice" but to join the lawsuit.
"I want them to be punished," she said of the diocese.
Sean Dolan, a diocese spokesman, declined to comment on pending litigation.
Several relatives of Babis' said they had never seen any evidence that he was a sexual abuser.
"I find that hard to believe," said Dorothy Babis, of Forest Hills, Queens, the widow of Babis' brother. "I can't tell you how shocked I am to hear this."
"He was a good uncle," said his nephew, Douglas Babis, 63, of Brentwood. "He never made advances toward me."
The Regan family first met Babis more than 50 years ago at his first parish assignment in Howard Beach, Queens. They say the priest remained a close family friend for 18 years, while serving at St. Philip Neri in Northport, the Church of Mary Immaculate in Bellport and Our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook.
Babis died in 1978 in Miami, where he was transferred in 1970, records show.
Richard Regan, the eldest child, made a complaint to the diocese in August, and later asked for a meeting with Murphy that would include all the abused siblings, their 82-year-old mother and their spiritual adviser.
But the former New York City police officer said a diocesan staffer told him that each sibling would need to make their own allegation and request an individual meeting with Murphy.
Dolan said only that the diocesan policy is that, " ... the Bishop offers to meet with anyone who has made an allegation of abuse. He has extended himself several times to Mr. Regan."
The summons claims the diocese was negligent in its "supervision, hiring, training and intentional tortious acts" and that it engaged in a "cover-up" of the "sexual abuse of children in the United States and Canada."
The family's attorney, John Aretakis, of Manhattan, said the Regan case demonstrates "some of the most egregious things I have ever seen in one family. A judge would have a hard time sending this family home," without a ruling in their favor.
New York State's statutes of limitation require negligence suits to be filed within three years, or before a plaintiff turns 21, whichever is later. But Aretakis said he was hopeful that a lawsuit before the State Court of Appeals seeking to grant an exception in a decades-old priest abuse case would succeed and pave the way for others such as the Regans to win compensation.
The siblings say Babis abused them in hotel rooms on overnight trips and in the church sacristy.
Richard Regan said Wednesday he only learned the extent of the abuse a few months ago, after finally raising the issue with all of his siblings. He said he had known only that he and two others were molested between 1950 and 1968, when the parents discovered the abuse and broke off contact with Babis.
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