Staten Island Advance [Staten Island NY]
May 6, 2021
Monsignor John Paddack, a former top administrator at two Catholic high schools on Staten Island, has been named in a pair of new sex-abuse lawsuits filed this week, bringing the number of accusers up to at least a dozen.
In an interview with the Advance/SILive.com, attorneys from Jeff Anderson & Associates slammed Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, for his handling of sex-abuse allegations against Monsignor Paddack, who previously served as principal of Monsignor Farrell High School in Oakwood and as a dean at St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School in Huguenot.
Monsignor Paddack is named in two lawsuits filed on Tuesday against the Archdiocese of New York and other defendants under the New York Child Victims Act.
Monsignor Paddack is not listed as a defendant in either lawsuit and these two latest filings are not connected with the prelate’s service on Staten Island, but he has been accused of abuse in previous lawsuits stemming from his time at both Monsignor Farrell and St. Joseph by-the-Sea high schools.
The latest legal actions include a lawsuit by an anonymous male plaintiff identified in court filings as ARK 382, alleging abuse from 1987 to 1989, when the victim was 12 to 13 years old. The alleged abuse occurred at Incarnation R.C. Church in Washington Heights, where Monsignor Paddack was a parochial vicar from 1984-1991. The church is listed as a defendant.
Monsignor Paddack also is named in a lawsuit as the alleged abuser of an anonymous plaintiff identified as ARK 383 from 1996 to 1998 when the male victim was 15 to 17 years old. That suit alleges abuse took place at Incarnation and also Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx where Monsignor Paddack was a faculty member from 1991 to 1998. Both the parish and the high school are listed as defendants.
The two new filings allege that Monsignor Paddack “engaged in unpermitted sexual contact” with the victims.
“Plaintiff’s relationship to defendants and Msgr. Paddack, as a vulnerable child, parishioner, altar boy, student, and participant in church activities, was one in which Plaintiff was subject to the ongoing influence of defendants and Msgr. Paddack,” each of the lawsuits state. “The culture of the Catholic Church over plaintiff created pressure on plaintiff not to report the abuse plaintiff suffered.”
According to both lawsuits, the “defendants knew or should have known that Msgr. Paddack was a danger to children before Msgr. Paddack sexually assaulted plaintiff.
“Prior to the sexual abuse of plaintiff, defendants learned or should have learned that Msgr. Paddack was not fit to work with children. Defendants, by and through their agents, servants and/or employees, became aware, or should have become aware of Msgr. Paddack’s propensity to commit sexual abuse and of the risk to plaintiff’s safety.”
“We represent 12 survivors and we’re aware of a total of 15 lawsuits that have been filed under the Child Victims Act” that allege Monsignor Paddack sexually abused boys, according to Trusha Goffe of Jeff Anderson & Associates.
“He is an extraordinarily cunning predator who uses attention and kindness and his position in a really effective way” to abuse children, Jeff Anderson said.
At parishes and schools where Monsignor Paddack worked, he typically held positions of authority that gave him opportunities to groom, isolate and abuse his victims, according to Goffe and Anderson.
“So he had a triple whammy of power there,” Anderson said. “He’s a powerful priest, he is the teacher and he’s also the principal, so he’s got extraordinary points of access and unbridled power.”
Although many of the accusers have decided to remain anonymous in their filings, Joseph Caramanno described in an interview with the Advance/SILive.com in 2019 how he sued after he allegedly was abused by Monsignor Paddack from 2001 to 2002 during school hours inside what then was the educator’s private office at St. Joseph by-the-Sea.
Monsignor Paddack was an academic dean and an educator at St. Joseph by-the-Sea from 1998 to 2002 when he became principal of Farrell.
A lawsuit filed in 2020 alleges that Monsignor Paddack sexually abused a boy at Monsignor Farrell in the early 2000s. The Archdiocese of New York and the high school in Oakwood were listed as defendants in that filing.
“Joe Caramanno went very public with this and the other survivors all demonstrate and report to us very credible patterns of conduct by [Monsignor Paddack] where he uses gifts, where he uses attention, where he targets kids who seem to be vulnerable, but not just those that are, and uses his kind of gentle, caring, soft-spoken ways to isolate these kids in a variety of locations,” Anderson said.
LAWYERS CRITICIZE ARCHDIOCESE
In February 2019, Jeff Anderson & Associates included Monsignor Paddack on its own list of alleged abuser priests, but the monsignor’s name was missing from an Archdiocesan list released to the public in April 2019 of priests credibly accused of sex offenses.
Given the number and scope of accusations, the attorneys question why Monsignor Paddack was allowed to voluntarily step down in 2019 as head of Notre Dame R.C. Church in Manhattan and remains a priest.
“They say that he’s on voluntary leave, in other words, he took a leave, not Dolan putting him on administrative leave for purposes of investigation,” Anderson said, “and so that is what the archdiocese status is, which means they claim he’s not doing public ministry, but they are providing him the safe harbor, the pay, the privilege and the position there and still giving him cover, claiming that he’s wrongfully accused, so the archdiocese’s position has not changed.”
Anderson called the archdiocese’s handling of the matter “stunning,” “disturbing” and “dangerous.”
Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese, said the Archdiocese’s Lay Review Board has not yet probed the allegations against Monsignor Paddack.
“He remains a priest, although he is not permitted to function as a priest at this time,” Zwilling said. “The review board does not take action on any case while there is a civil case pending, and so has not looked into the allegations against Msgr. Paddack, and will not do so until the litigation has concluded.”
In an interview regarding abuse allegations, Monsignor Paddack previously said: “Nothing happened, believe me. I have a 50-year record of teaching. And it’s a good record, believe me. I think they’re seeing the advertisements on television and in the paper, and a chance to make money. Very sad, and it could ruin a reputation.”