Rotterdam priest named in Child Victims Act claim withdraws from ministry

Times Union [Albany NY]

August 14, 2021

By Kathleen Moore

Diocese panel will review case of Father Ciotoli, who maintains innocence

ROTTERDAM – A priest has withdrawn from public ministry after being accused in “a single allegation of sexual abuse that was first reported in a Child Victims Act case,” according to a statement Saturday by the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese.

Father Vincent Ciotoli has served at 14 churches and was most recently pastor of two churches in Rotterdam. He voluntarily withdrew in response to the claim and will not publicly officiate at sacraments, wear clerical garb or present himself as a priest, the diocese said. He may return to the ministry if an investigation by the independent Diocesan Review Board exonerates him.

“Out of an abundance of caution and sensitivity to all concerned, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has accepted Father Ciotoli’s decision, and asks for prayers for all involved. Father Ciotoli maintains his innocence,” the diocese stated.

The allegation is in an anonymous lawsuit filed by the plaintiff, who is now an adult, through the Child Victims Act.

Ciotoli has served as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace of Rotterdam since 2010, and as pastor of St. Margaret of Cortona of Rotterdam since 2015. Before that he served at the following parishes: St. Luke’s, Schenectady; St. Mary’s, Glens Falls; Our Lady of the Assumption, Latham; St. Patrick’s, Troy; St. Pius X, Loudonville; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Gloversville; St. Helen’s, Schenectady; Immaculate Conception, Glenville; St. Patrick’s, Ravena; St. Teresa of Avila (now Mater Christi), Albany; Immaculate Conception, Hoosick Falls; and Our Lady of the Assumption, Rotterdam.

The diocese does not yet have a timeline for the investigation, said spokeswoman Mary DeTurris Poust. But Ciotoli will not return to public ministry until the lawsuit or the investigation, or both, are concluded, she said.

If the investigation finds the claim credible, Ciotoli would be permanently removed from the ministry and added to the diocese’s List of Offenders.

Father Vincent Ciotoli, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Rotterdam, has voluntarily withdrawn from the ministry after a Child Victims Act claim against him.  Kathleen Moore
Father Vincent Ciotoli, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace in Rotterdam, has voluntarily withdrawn from the ministry after a Child Victims Act claim against him. — Kathleen Moore

“Because this is an anonymous Child Victims Act case with few details, it is difficult to conduct a thorough investigation under the circumstances. In addition, because it is in litigation, there are further restraints on what can and can’t be done. Regardless, Bishop Scharfenberger is committed to full transparency and will await the independent Diocesan Review Board’s eventual finding and recommendation,” she said.

The allegation will also be forwarded to the District Attorney’s office, as is the diocese’s policy now, she said.

In July, former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard said he had sent priests to treatment after accusations of sexual abuse of children. It was the common practice in the 1970s and 1980s, he said. “The professional advice we received was well-intended but flawed, and I deeply regret that we followed it,” he said in a statement.

There have been about 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits filed against the Albany diocese, including at least seven separate allegations against Hubbard, the former head of the diocese. He has said he is innocent in relation to those claims.