Rockland/Westchester NY Journal News (Lohud.com)
May 13, 2021
By Isabel Keane
[Photo above: Edwin Gaynor and his basketball team at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scarsdale in 1967. Standing in front of Gaynor is Gregory Morra, one of 21 former students who allege in lawsuits that Gaynor sexually abused them]
A judge has ordered the Archdiocese of New York and three of its Catholic schools to turn over a trove of documents related to one of its former teachers who has been accused of molesting more than 20 students decades ago.
Edwin “Ted” Gaynor worked as a teacher and coach at a few Catholic schools in Westchester County between the 1950s and 1980s, including Immaculate Heart of Mary in Scarsdale, St. Bernard in White Plains and Holy Rosary in Hawthorne.
At least 21 people have made allegations against Gaynor and sued him, the Archdiocese, and Immaculate Heart of Mary under the state Child Victims’ Act.
On September 19 plaintiffs, whose cases have been combined, asked the defendants to provide a sizable collection of documents dating back to the 1950s. The defendants pushed back, but on May 5 state Supreme Court Justice Steven Jaeger ruled that they must provide a bulk of the records requested as the plaintiffs seek more information on a system they say allowed numerous children to be abused for years.
Attorney Barbara Hart, who represents those 19 plaintiffs, said “the managerial behavior of moving pedophiles around is part of what we hope to find within the discovery that would demonstrate that this was a responsibility and practice of the Archdiocese.”
Gaynor previously admitted to molesting students. The 86-year-old Ossining resident, could not be reached for comment on this latest ruling.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs believe that in every instance of abuse, the school, parish and officials at the Archdiocese allowed Gaynor to continue to abuse children by moving him around different parishes.
The plaintiffs are seeking numerous records dating back to 1956, including all documents concerning Gaynor; records of his boys camp in Livingston Manor; all documents that identify workers of the three schools named in the lawsuits, as well as education leaders in the Archdiocese; records about efforts by the defendants to detect child sex abuse; documents about whether the defendants reported Gaynor’s alleged sex abuse to law enforcement; all records concerning child sex abuse committed by anyone who worked for the defendants; and all documents about the movement from one school to another of any clergy or employee of the defendants who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
The Archdiocese will be required to provide the documents within 60 days of the May 5 ruling.
“Perhaps to call it a watershed event is to use too flowery language, but it is important that the Archdiocese not be able to thwart the discovery that is their obligation in response to the litigation,” said Hart. “And they’ve been essentially avoiding their obligation to date and now the court has ruled.”
Gaynor first coached at St. Bernard School in the late 1950s before going to Immaculate Heart of Mary in the early 1960s. In the late 1960s he became a coach at Holy Rosary Church and for years organized the basketball and baseball programs of the Catholic schools’ league.
Lawyers for the Archdiocese and the schools have said that Gaynor was solely responsible if any abuse occurred, and that officials were unaware of any abuse.
When reached by The Journal News/lohud, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York Joseph Zwilling said: “The Archdiocese of New York has been cooperative in the discovery process related to CVA cases, and will continue to cooperate so that any meritorious cases might be appropriately resolved. However, the archdiocese is appealing this particular discovery order in order to determine its appropriateness.”
The Immaculate Heart of Mary, as well as their lawyers, did not respond to requests for comment on the ruling.