WMUR-TV, ABC-9 [Manchester NH]
July 23, 2021
By Tim Callery and Jean Mackin
Organization for survivors of sex abuse victims calls for Manchester bishop’s suspension
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Manchester Diocese Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci is denying that he sexually abused a child in the 1980s, according to a statement released Friday by his attorney.
Libasci is not facing criminal charges. In a lawsuit, he was accused of sexually abusing a child around 12 or 13 years old in 1983 and 1984.
In a statement released Friday evening, Libasci’s attorney, Michael J. Connolly, said the bishop “categorically denies the allegations.”
“The allegation that, almost 40 years ago, Bishop Libasci assaulted an individual while serving as a parish priest in Deer Park, New York, is not true,” Connolly said in the statement. “Bishop Libasci has dedicated over 43 years to serving others as a Roman Catholic priest, during which time he has earned an impeccable reputation for treating all individuals with dignity and respect. While Bishop Libasci has great compassion for victims of sexual abuse, he will be forced to vigorously defend against these false allegations in court.”
The diocese issued a statement about the lawsuit, telling News 9 that, following standard protocol, the matter has been reported to civil authorities.
But officials with Road to Recovery, Inc., a nonprofit charity based in New Jersey that assists victims of sexual abuse and their families, said that’s not enough.
“Here we go again with another allegation against a bishop,” said Robert Hoatson, president and co-founder of Road to Recovery.
Hoatson used to serve as a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark.
“If it were a priest in this diocese, he would’ve been removed by now,” Hoatson said. “When they handle the bishops, anything goes.”
Hoatson is calling on Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the Archdiocese of Boston to remove Libasci as the lawsuit moves through the courts.
“Based on the Pope’s decree, ‘vos estis lux mundi,’ ‘you are the light of the world,’ that’s supposed to hold bishops accountable for what they’ve done either in coverups or abuse themselves,” Hoatson said.
The Archdiocese of Boston said the authority to suspend a bishop rests with the Vatican or its appointed designee to investigate an allegation. As of now, no designee has been named by the Vatican, so the authority rests with it and not O’Malley.
News 9 has reached out to the Vatican on several occasions but has not heard back.