Stunned Parish Stands by Its Priest in Boy-Sex Case

By Maria Alvarez, Douglas Montero and Hallie Levine
The New York Post
June 24, 2001

Parishioners at a Staten Island church yesterday reacted with stunned disbelief to news that one of their priests has been accused of using a teen as a sex toy.

"It's a lie," a congregant at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Richmondtown said of the accusation against the Rev. John Albino.

She crossed herself and hurried away.

Other parishioners seemed shocked and refused to comment on the allegations, first reported in yesterday's Post.

A lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court charges that four priests - Albino, Rev. Ruben Rodriguez, Rev. Esteban Rodriguez and Rev. James Tamburrino - sexually abused a teenage boy several years ago.

Between January 1996 and August 1998, the teen - who is now 21 - was given cash in exchange for sexual favors, witnessed the priests participate in "group masturbation" and was threatened with harm if he exposed their sexual escapades, the lawsuit states.

The victim's lawyer, Laurence M. Deutsch, has asked the community for help in finding others who may not have come forward.

Rev. Ruben Rodriguez, the former pastor of the Simon Stock Church on Valentine Avenue, has flatly denied the allegations.

Rodriguez - who has been at a parish in San Juan, Puerto Rico, since July 1999, told The Post that the trouble began in May 1999, when he sought to transfer Father Tamburrino in part because of the "close relationship" he had with the teen.

He also claimed that he had learned that Tamburrino had been disciplined for sexual misconduct in Peru.

Rodriguez claimed that Tamburrino retaliated by conspiring with the boy to spread "false rumors that the pastor and the other priests were molesting the teen."

"Tamburrino was acting like a teenager around [the boy]," Rodriguez said. "They would go bike riding, fishing, to the movies."

When asked if he thought Tamburrino was intimately involved with the boy, as alleged in the suit, the former pastor said, "at the time I was scared that it could have happened. When I questioned him [Tamburrino] about it, he said, aewe're just friends.' And I took his word for it."

Tamburrino currently lives at the Carmelite priory in upstate Middletown and works for the Hospital for the Criminally Insane there.

He refused to comment on the lawsuit.


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