June 18, 2020
By Marnie Eisenstadt
Whitesboro, N.Y. — It was always old Frankenstein movies. Or ghost stories.
“Any little thing where he got you alone in the dark,” Mary McLoughlin recalled. Then the priest at her family’s church would sexually abuse her, she said.
She was 11; the abuse happened numerous times, according to a lawsuit McLoughlin filed against the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese Wednesday.
McLoughlin’s suit was one of 38 filed against the diocese this week, a new wave of complaints under the New York Child Victims Act.
McLoughlin’s is one of the few filed against the diocese by women; most of the accusers have been men who alleged the abuse happened when they were boys.
McLoughlin, 66, says her abuser was the Rev. Conrad Somerville. At the time, he was in his 30s at St. Joseph’s school and parish in Utica.
Somerville has not been named in the diocese’s list of known offenders. He died in 2013 at 85; his last post was at the Franciscan Place at Destiny USA.
A spokeswoman for the diocese said they have not seen the new cases yet, but they take seriously all allegations of sexual abuse.
“We continue to pray for the healing of those who have been harmed in the past and continue to be vigilant in our safe environment protocols in order that this very dark chapter in the Church will never happen again,” said Danielle Cummings.
The priest was trusted by McLoughlin’s family and that of the other girls in her school, according to the lawsuit. The sexual abuse happened in movie theaters, church youth outings and in Somerville’s car, according to the lawsuit.
Somerville used his position at the school and church to groom McLoughlin and other girls so he could molest them, according to the suit. The allegations outlined in the lawsuit happened between 1964 and 1965.
“I hope it makes people like Father Conrad realize they can’t get away with this. For over 50 years, I’ve been wondering who else, or how many other kids did he hurt,” said McLoughlin, who lives in Troy now and is a funeral director.
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