LI Priest Accused of Sex Abuse Defends Himself in E-Mail

By Associated Press
March 12, 2003

New York - A Long Island priest who was suspended from his parish last year after being accused of sexual molestation has written an "open letter" defending himself against the allegations.

Msgr. Charles Ribaudo, the former pastor of St. Dominic's in Oyster Bay, asserted in an e-mail dated March 5 that he never had a "sexual relationship" with any students while serving as chaplain of a Catholic high school in the 1970s and 1980s.

In the e-mail, obtained by Newsday, Ribaudo said he chose to respond now "because I can't handle all the personal calls and letters or the stress and confusion that my silence has caused among my friends and in the Oyster Bay community."

The accusations against Ribaudo were leveled by the Rev. Michael Hands, a Long Island priest who was given a two-year jail sentence in Suffolk County last week for sodomizing a 13-year-old boy.

Hands has alleged that Ribaudo touched him improperly on several occasions when he was a student at Trinity High School in Hicksville, where Ribaudo served as chaplain.

Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre Diocese, acting in response to the allegations, ordered Ribaudo to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. In March 2002, Murphy suspended Ribaudo, who then decided to retire.

In his letter, Ribaudo does not respond to an allegation made by a grand jury witness who testified that Ribaudo sodomized him as a boy.

A trustee of the parish, Wesley Wood, said Ribaudo wanted to "address the large scheme of things in the grand jury report," but not the "specifics of one or two of the allegations."

Ribaudo also sharply criticizes the diocese for turning over a confidential personnel file to a Suffolk grand jury that was investigating priest sex abuse. Some material from those files was later incorporated into the grand jury's report, which accused the diocese of attempting to protect abusive priests from legal censure.

"My permission was never sought. Instead this information has been released to the Grand Jury and has been misquoted in sections of the report and printed out of context in the press," the e-mail states.


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