Staten Island Advance [Staten Island NY]
May 30, 2021
A new lawsuit makes shocking allegations of sex abuse against a priest who served in the 1960s at St. Sylvester’s R.C. Church in Concord.
The Rev. Leo Mojecki is identified as the perpetrator in the lawsuit filed in April on behalf of an anonymous man by attorneys for the Herman Law Firm, based in Manhattan.
The Archdiocese of New York and the church at 856 Targee St. are named as defendants.
The lawsuit alleges that Father Mojecki “sexually assaulted and abused plaintiff on multiple occasions” from about 1964 to 1966 when the victim was about nine to 11 years old and attending the fourth to sixth grades at St. Sylvester School.
The abuse allegedly occurred in various locations on church property, including the rectory and a room where altar boys changed their clothes. Father Mojecki “wore his priest garb during instances of sexual assaults and abuse” committed against the victim, the lawsuit alleges.
“The acts of sexual assault and abuse perpetrated by Father Mojecki against plaintiff included but were not limited to: Fondling plaintiff’s genitals; Father Mojecki rubbing his own genitals in front of plaintiff; kissing plaintiff; and having plaintiff serve mass as an altar boy with only underwear on under his altar boy robes,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit describes the priest’s alleged grooming of the victim and his family.
“Father Mojecki would regularly keep plaintiff late at church; offer to drive plaintiff home; socialized with plaintiff’s parents; and asked plaintiff to help him with tasks,” according to the lawsuit.
An alleged incident where the boy, who lived about a mile from the church, spent the night at the rectory during a snowstorm is detailed in the lawsuit. The priest allegedly spiked the boy’s cup of tea with an unspecified drug and then raped the unconscious youngster.
“Father Mojecki gave plaintiff tea prior to going to sleep,” the lawsuit alleges. “When plaintiff awoke, he was dizzy and unusually groggy. Plaintiff had difficulty urinating, observed that his penis was red and sore, had pain and bleeding from his rectum, and was unable to defecate. Upon information and belief, Father Mojecki drugged plaintiff and sexually abused and assaulted plaintiff while he was in an unconscious state, including, but not limited to, anal penetration.”
The lawsuit alleges that the priest also “engaged in additional acts of inappropriate behavior” with the victim, including “wearing a bathrobe with his legs and chest exposed in front of plaintiff, and laying his legs across plaintiff.”
The lawsuit alleges that the victim reported the sexual abuse to his teacher, who the filing identifies only as Sister Immaculata.
“No action was taken by Sister Immaculata. Father Mojecki’s employment with St. Sylvester continued unchanged, and Father Mojecki’s sexual abuse and assaults against Plaintiff continued.”
The lawsuit also alleges that the Rev. Thomas Burke and Monsignor John Lennon, then the pastor, knew that the victim spent the night in the rectory with Father Mojecki.
“At all times relevant and material hereto, the defendants knew or should have known that Father Mojecki was unfit, dangerous, and a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the children entrusted to his counsel, care and/or protection,” the lawsuit said.
“With such actual and/or constructive knowledge, the defendants provided Father Mojecki unfettered access to plaintiff and gave Father Mojecki the opportunity to commit foreseeable acts of child sexual abuse or assault.”
“The Archdiocese of New York takes seriously all allegations of sexual abuse of a minor, and treats those who bring forward allegations with dignity and respect,” said Joseph Zwilling, director of communications for the archdiocese. “However, we cannot comment on specific lawsuits that are brought under the Child Victims Act.”
Monsignor John Lennon died in 1982, Father Burke died in 1984 and Father Mojecki died in 1985.
FILING AGAINST FATHER BURKE
Father Burke, whose Island assignments included leadership positions at the former Augustinian Academy, also has been accused of being a predator during his time at St. Sylvester’s.
A previously-filed lawsuit accuses Father Burke of sexually abusing a student at St. Sylvester’s in the 1960s.
The Child Victims Act lawsuit was filed in 2019 by Jeff Anderson & Associates in state Supreme Court in Manhattan on behalf of an anonymous alleged victim identified only as ARK63 DOE. Named as defendants in the lawsuits regarding Father Burke are the Archdiocese of New York, the Augustinian Order and related entities, including the former Augustinian Academy on Grymes Hill, and St. Sylvester’s Parish.