Queens priests named in child abuse lawsuits

Queens Daily Eagle [Jamaica NY]

August 13, 2021

By Rachel Vick

The Brooklyn Diocese is facing new legal action after two priests currently assigned to Queens were accused of sexually abusing young parishioners in suits filed earlier this summer.

Monsignor Ralph J. Maresca and Father Vincent M. Daly were named in separate lawsuits alleging that they engaged in sexual contact with parishioners under their tutelage from the time they were seven and eight years old, respectively.

The suit claims that the Diocese was aware of the incidents, or should have been.

“We call on Bishop DiMarzio to come clean and inform the public about what he knows about these perpetrators,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm is representing the plaintiffs. “DiMarzio is harboring some of these perpetrators right under the publics’ nose where they still have access to children, and he must remove them from ministry to protect children in the Diocese of Brooklyn.”

A spokesperson for the Diocese told the Eagle that the Independent Diocesan Review Board has been informed of the lawsuits and is investigating, and that both men “adamantly deny these allegations.”

Maresca is pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Astoria and was assigned to St. Edmund in Brooklyn at the time of the allegations. Daly, who was at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Long Island City, has been retired in residence at Holy Trinity in Whitestone since 2017.

“Both priests are in active ministry and have a lengthy record of faithful and unblemished service to the Church,” the Diocese said. “The Diocese of Brooklyn takes all allegations of sexual abuse very seriously and has significant protocols in place to protect minors [and] continues its outreach and pastoral care to victims.”

Though the allegations detail events that occurred over 30 years ago, the Child Victims Act of 2019 allowed older cases to be brought forward. In May of 2020, state lawmakers voted to extend the window to the end of this week due to pandemic court closures.

There were 31 cases filed in Queens last week, and 390 since August of 2019, according to the Office of Court Administration. Across the state, there have been 9,241 cases filed under the CVA.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman offering a similar lookback window for people who were sexually assaulted as adults passed in the Senate in June. The Assembly version is still in committee.

“In 2019 we passed the Child Victims Act, which has helped more than 6,000 sexual assault survivors seek justice,” Hoylman said. “The Adult Survivors Act extends that exact same opportunity to thousands more survivors, letting them hold their predators accountable in court. For far too long our justice system has failed survivors of sexual assault.”

Resources for survivors of child abuse are available through the church and secular community organizations. Suspected child abuse can be reported through through the Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-342-3720.