Suit alleges sexual abuse at St. Agnes Rectory in 1980s

Livingston County News

July 24, 2020

By Matt Leader

Latest filing against Joe Larrabee, former priest in Dansville, Avon

Avon NY – One word comes to mind when Mark Rowe recalls Joseph Larrabee, a former priest who’s now the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging the sexual abuse of children.

“I guess the word is charismatic,” said Rowe, the latest to file suit against Larrabee. “Funny guy. There wasn’t anybody that didn’t like him – adults, kids. He was very likable.”

So when Larrabee, an associate pastor at the St. Agnes parish, invited Rowe and some of his classmates over for a sleepover at the rectory one summer in the early 1980s when Rowe was in his early teenage years, Rowe didn’t think much of it.

“Everybody had sleeping bags on the floor – he did as well. He was sleeping next to me. He reached into my bag and grabbed my genitals,” said Rowe, speaking during a phone interview last week. “After I don’t how long it was – if I said 30 seconds or a minute I’d be guessing – I knew it wasn’t right so I told him to stop. He said ‘Are you sure?’ I said ‘Yup.’”

Rowe, who graduated from Avon High School in 1984 and is now 54 years old, doesn’t think he ever went back to the rectory, though he can’t remember for sure.

“It’s really vague in my mind,” he said. “The one time just stands out because of what happened. I want to say it was the only time I’d gone there. I know there were other sleepovers that other kids went to at other times.”

Regardless, Rowe saw little of Larrabee from then on. A couple of years after the sleepover, Larrabee was transferred to a different parish.

The now former priest’s sexual assault of Rowe is outlined in a lawsuit filed earlier this month in Livingston County Supreme Court. It is, at least, the sixth such lawsuit filed against Larrabee under New York’s Child Victims Act. Three were filed in August 2019, according to reporting from Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle.

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