Clergy Sexual Abuse of Minors
in the Albany
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in
For several months, every Roman Catholic Diocese in the United
States, including the Albany Diocese, has had the sad but necessary job of
compiling information on the numbers of priests and deacons accused of
sexual abuse of minors over the last half-century. We believe that knowing
the full historical extent of this problem will help make our current and
future efforts to prevent clergy sexual abuse of minors more
Each diocese has been asked to provide this information to
researchers at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice in New York City.
John Jay was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to
study the incidence of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy
nationwide. The John Jay study covers the period from 1950 to June
A report on the John Jay study is scheduled to be issued to the
public in February 2004, but we believe it is important to share the
statistical information about the Albany Diocese with you now. For the
purposes of this report, we also adopted 1950 as a starting point but have
gone beyond June 2002 to include information received as recently as
November 1, 2003.
2% of Diocesan Priests Offended
Based on a review of available historical records, between 1950 and
November 1, 2003, 121 individuals made allegations of sexual abuse against
clergy affiliated with the Albany Diocese. Fifty-three Diocesan clergy,
all but one of them priests, were accused. The Diocese or, since 1993, the
Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board found reasonable cause to believe
the allegations against 18 of the accused priests — or 2 percent of the
814 Diocesan priests in service in the last 53 years.
None of the 18 priests is in active ministry today. They are not permitted to function publicly as priests, to celebrate Mass or other sacraments or hear confessions or to wear the clerical garb in public. Their status is as follows: 11 of the 18 priests have been removed from ministry; five have been placed on indefinite leave from ministry; two of the 18 priests are deceased.
Every Allegation Investigated
The Albany Diocese investigates every allegation of clergy sexual abuse of a minor. An independent private investigation firm headed by a retired senior investigatorwith the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducts the investigations. Allegations against 15 current or former clergy are the subject of investigations at this time. Eleven of the 15 are not in active ministry: Three are deceased; four are on voluntary leave pending the outcome of these investigations, and four have resigned from the ministry. Four of the clergy have been permitted to remain in active ministry for now because reasonable cause to believe the allegations has not been established at this time and, based on a preliminary investigation, the priests are not a threat to the community.
If reasonable cause to believe the allegations is found, the active
priests will be removed from ministry and the removals publicly announced.
The Albany Diocese continues to follow this zero-tolerance policy: No
priest or deacon whom the Diocese has reasonable cause to believe sexually
abused a minor can remain in ministry.
Since 1950, 11 Diocesan priests were cleared after the complaints
against them were investigated and determined to be unfounded. While each
case is different, generally the accused priest was not working at the
parish, school or other facility at the time he was accused of abusing a
No further action is possible at this time involving allegations against nine other priests or former priests. The Diocese does not have enough information to assess whether reasonable grounds exist to believe the allegations against these individuals. None is in active ministry: Seven are dead and two resigned from priestly ministry many years before the allegations were made against them. In these cases, generally, the allegation was made by an individual who declined to identify himself or herself or to be interviewed, or who did not or could not provide other information to support the allegations. In a few cases, third parties made the allegation and the alleged victim was deceased or unwilling or unavailable to cooperate in an investigation. The Diocese will consider any new information it receives on these cases.
During the 53-year period, the Diocese also received allegations from 20 individuals against 15 priests affiliated with other dioceses or religious orders. The Albany Diocese referred these allegations for action to their respective dioceses or orders.
Most Allegations from the 1960s and 1970s but
Seventy percent of the alleged incidents were reported by victims
to have occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. Nearly half of all of the
allegations have been received by the Diocese in the last three
The occurrence of alleged abuse by decade is as follows: 50 percent
of the incidents were alleged to have occurred in the 1970s, 20 percent in
the 1960s, 19 percent in the 1980s, 8 percent in the 1950s, about 1
percent each in the 1990s and since 2000. The Diocese received the
allegations as follows: 49 percent since 2000, 33 percent in the 1990s,
and 9 percent each in the 1980s and 1970s.
The Albany Diocese insurance fund has provided $3,025,000 in
compensation to the victims of clergy sexual abuse during the 53-year
period. The insurance fund also covered $965,697 in counseling, legal and
other costs associated with clergy sexual abuse issues since 1950. More
than 80 percent of that sum was spent to provide counseling for victims
The premiums for Diocesan insurance coverage — like most other
Diocesan programs and services — are paid through parishioners’
contributions to their parishes. No funds specifically contributed to the
Bishop’s Appeal, Capital Campaign or other dedicated programs were or are
used to pay settlements or other expenses related to sexual abuse
This accounting is based on our review of historical information up
to 53 years old. We have done our best to make a full and fair accounting
based on the information available to us today.
A Sacred Trust Violated
I am profoundly saddened and disturbed by the number of our
Diocesan priests who were found to have sexually abused a minor over the
last 53 years. Some of the allegations against other priests, for which
reasonable cause has not been found, may nevertheless be valid. It is also
possible that not all victims of clergy sexual abuse have yet come
forward. Abuse of minors is a grave sin and a serious crime, a
reprehensible violation of trust by a priest who is called to be a witness
of Christ’s love on Earth and should strive to uphold the highest standard
of moral conduct. It is also true that the vast majority of my brother
priests have never offended in this way, have lived up to their vows and
fulfilled their duties with great grace.
I have witnessed firsthand the physical, emotional and spiritual suffering of the victims. Some have lost faith and feel alienated from the church. Our faith community, the public in general and people in religious life have been shocked, angered and traumatized by this scandal. This is a profoundly sad chapter in the history of our church. I apologize again to all who have suffered from our actions and mistakes, especially the victims.
Looking at the past with shame, anger and regret instills in us the
will to see that sexual abuse of minors by priests in this Diocese —
indeed, everywhere — is stopped through preventative steps, removal of
offenders, public notification and continuing education and
The Steps Our Diocese Has Taken So
The Albany Diocese has fully embraced the U.S. Conference of
Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Here is what we have done so far:
What Our Diocese Will Do Next
In the spirit of the Charter for the Protection of Children and
Young People and the Albany Diocese Sexual Misconduct Policy, I believe
there is still more that our Diocese should do to fully and fairly
recognize and ease the suffering caused by clergy sexual abuse. We have a
moral obligation to assist victims of clergy sexual abuse, regardless of
whether they have viable legal remedies or would seek to exercise them.
Our goal ultimately must be to promote healing, reconciliation and
While we are already providing counseling and other assistance to
many victims who have come forward, I believe we should establish an
overall program built on the fundamental principles of fairness and
validation for victims. This program should provide an individualized
response, including pastoral, spiritual and emotional care and the
consideration of financial assistance. The Diocese will seek a respected,
independent leader to develop and administer this program.
Promoting healing and preventing future abuse continue to be urgent priorities for me, for the Albany Diocese and for our church as a whole. I ask for your continued prayers and guidance.
Howard J. Hubbard