Embattled Pastor Reassigned
Sex-abuse accusers protest his move to parish in Hickville

By Anthony Scaduto
October 5, 1995

The pastor of a Franklin Square Roman Catholic church who resigned his post after several women accused him of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers, has been reassigned to a Hicksville church and some of his accusers are beginning a campaign to have him removed.

[Photo captions: John Mott in 1989. Joan Cleary protests Rev. Mott's reassignment earlier this week.]

The Rev. John Mott, 66, who resigned as pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna in July, was recently assigned as associate pastor of Our Lady of Mercy R.C. Church in Hicksville.

One of his accusers, Janet Ostrowski, 45, of North Bellmore, who is appealing a court decision dismissing her $ 23-million civil suit against Mott, picketed the Hicksville church Monday with other women who charge they had been molested by Msgr. Mott. The parents of some of the women joined them in the demonstration, she said.

"I have every intention of keeping this issue alive," Ostrowski said, "and of alerting parents that their children are at risk."

A group of the church's parishioners who have children were to hold a meeting last night at the church.

"I'm going," Ostrowski said, "but I don't think the church officials will let me in."

Jean DeStefano, whose son is in the church school's first grade, said 20 or more parents were planning to go to a school board meeting - closed to parents - to let officials know "they don't agree" with assigning Mott to a church that operates a school.

"I don't believe this man should be sent away and never serve people, but he should not be serving children. There are many parishes where there are no schools and that's where they should assign him," DeStefano said.

In a brief phone conversation Mott, 66, confirmed that he has been reassigned to the Hicksville church, but said little else. "I've been told not to talk about it," he said. "I'm sorry."

Ostrowski said she was "enraged that the Church is not taking this seriously, that they permitted him to resume his pastoral duties. He should be removed from the priesthood, he can't be trusted around children."

Officials of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre could not be reached for comment.

In the lawsuit she filed last year, Ostrowski charged that Mott sexually abused her for about four years, starting when she was about 15 and a member of youth groups run by Mott at St. Raphael's Roman Catholic Church in East Meadow.

Ostrowski said she was depressed on and off for years and in therapy, but did not uncover her repressed memory of sexual abuse until two years ago when she saw actress Margaux Hemingway discuss sexual abuse and eating disorders on a talk show.

Four other women later contacted the diocese charging that they, too, had been sexually abused by Mott at St. Raphael's.

In a March 29 ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Robert Doyle dismissed Ostrowski's suit, saying the case didn't meet criteria for suspending the statute of limitations on civil sexual-abuse cases. The statute in such cases is at most three years.


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