Court papers: Put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand for questioning in abuse cases


January 28, 2020

By Jane Flasch

He wants to be identified only by his initials, the same identity he uses in the lawsuit he filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester.

“The victims need to know. We have a right to know,” he said about new developments in the case.

Attorneys for child sexual assault victims are asking a judge to put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand. He ran the diocese for 33 years.

Last September, it was announced that Clark was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. According to court testimony, he no longer drives but retains cognitive function.

Victims say time is running out for the questions only he can answer.

“What did he know, when did he know it, and what did he do about it?” said J.O. during an interview in his living room.

He was 14 when he met Clark. He said at the time of that meeting, he was being abused at a group home. Years earlier, he was also sexually abused by a priest at an orphanage. Both organizations were being run by the Catholic Diocese.

“The (abuse) cases that are coming forward didn’t just happen now, they happened on his watch,” J.O. said. “He had to know there was sexual abuse going on by his priests.”

Nearly 100 lawsuits filed under the Child Victim’s Act name the diocese. Attorneys say many of the instances of alleged abuse occurred during the years Clark supervised and controlled the assignment of priests.

Under oath, the attorneys want to question “his knowledge of sexual abuse” and “transfers of sexual abusers.” They also want to know about complaints made against specific priests and how they were investigated.

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