Priest Who Was Still Saying Mass After Abuse Settlements Is Suspended

New York Times

December 23, 2018

By Sharon Otterman

The Archdiocese of New York has suspended a priest who had continued his clerical duties despite two settlements paid for allegations of sexual abuse of teenage boys.

The Rev. Donald G. Timone, 84, is the subject of an internal investigation by the archdiocese, but had continued to celebrate Mass in New York and California, more than a year and a half after an archdiocesan compensation program paid settlements to the two men, as detailed last week by The New York Times.

A spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, said on Friday that the archdiocese would no longer allow Father Timone to remain in ministry while it weighed permanently removing him.

One of the men who came forward with claims of abuse by Father Timone committed suicide in 2015 after what his widow said was a decades-long struggle to come to terms with the abuse.

Father Timone, who formally retired in 2009, is a priest in residence at St. Joseph’s Church in Middletown, N.Y., and had celebrated Mass there as recently as Dec. 2.

But Father Timone, Mr. Zwilling said in an email, has “been instructed that he is not to exercise his ministry at all until the review board has again examined his case and the matter has been resolved.”

The two settlements were awarded in the spring of 2017 by the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, founded by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, to compensate victims of clergy abuse, provided they release the archdiocese from future legal claims.

Those settlements did not trigger Father Timone’s removal from the ministry despite the archdiocese’s “zero-tolerance” policy on child sexual abuse, Mr. Zwilling said, because the compensation program functioned separately from the archdiocese’s own internal process for substantiating abuse allegations.

Supporters of the two men who had received settlements said that they were relieved Father Timone was now being pulled from the pulpit, at least temporarily, but that did not excuse how the archdiocese had handled his case.

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