Court Refuses to Move, Dismiss Abuse Case against Priest

By Robert Cristo
Troy Record [Albany NY]
October 5, 2004

For the second time in a month, a Massachusetts judge ruled against the Albany Diocese's motion to dismiss or move a clergy sex abuse case against defrocked priest Dozia Wilson to New York state.

According to Suffolk County Superior Court documents released Monday by attorney John Aretakis, the court denied the Albany Diocese's request and will try the lawsuit, accusing Bishop Howard Hubbard and former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law of harboring a predatory priest.

Should the case make it to trial, Hubbard and other church leaders could be called upon to testify, much like Law was forced to testify in Boston in cases against convicted child molesters like Rev. John Geoghan.

Geoghan was later murdered in prison and Law stepped down from his position after church files proved he knew about pedophile priests within his diocese and did nothing about it.

Aretakis, who represents many alleged victims of clergy sex abuse, called the judge's decision a "huge legal victory," considering statute of limitation laws would prevent the case from going to trial in New York state but not in Massachusetts, where some of the alleged abuse occurred.

"(The diocese) is going to try to do everything it can to prevent Hubbard from taking the stand and will spend any amount of money to delay the case," said Aretakis.

The case was prompted by allegations against Wilson, 58, by now 37-year-old Joseph Woodward of Washington County, who alleges he was molested as a teenager by Wilson in New York and Massachusetts.

Woodward, who befriended Wilson in 1980 at St. Ann's Church in Fort Ann, lived with the ex-priest for a short time and claims Wilson enticed him with expensive gifts, trips and drugs so he could allegedly sexually molest him.

Wilson has a long history of sexual abuse allegations, stemming from the early 1970s when he was removed from the Albany Diocese and sent to Boston after he was caught allegedly having sex with two boys.

Hubbard was not the bishop at the time of his removal, but he was the Albany Diocese leader when Wilson was returned to this area after more allegations of sexual abuse and stealing funds surfaced around him in Boston.

Wilson was removed from ministry by Hubbard in 1993, but then held a job as spiritual advisor at the St. Christopher Residential Treatment Center in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County, where he allegedly had access to hundreds of children.

He left that position last year after being found beaten into unconsciousness by a male prostitute he was familiar with. Wilson never pressed charges against the man, who also stole his money and car.

Over the past few months, Wilson's controversial history has spurred criminal investigations in Massachusetts and Westchester County.

The Albany Diocese recently settled a $500,000 sexual abuse case against Wilson.

Diocese officials were disappointed with the latest Massachusetts court decision, but were not sure exactly what steps the diocese would take on the matter.

"We respectfully disagree with the court's decision," said Diocese spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb. "We believe the proper venue for this matter is New York state where most of the alleged conduct at issue occurred."

Diocese officials said they were aware of Wilson's single misconduct in Albany when he was returned to the area, but only received minor work-related complaints about him while he was in Boston.

And once someone raised the slightest concern about Wilson in the early '90s, Wilson was immediately removed from his post and never regained his priestly faculties, officials said.


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