Frankfort Man Fights Motion to Move Trial

By Jessica Arsenault
The Evening Telegram [Frankfort NY]
November 9, 2004

FRANKFORT - A Frankfort man who filed suit against the Albany Diocese is now fighting to keep the trial in Massachusetts rather than New York, said his Attorney John A. Aretakis.

David Leonard, a Frankfort resident for about 25 years, is opposing a motion by the accused, the Bishop Howard J. Hubbard and the Albany Diocese, to bring the suit to New York courts rather than Massachusetts.

Leonard alleges that when he was a teenager living in Massachusetts, he was repeatedly sexually abused by Stigmatine priests. As a result of this abuse, Leonard says he was mentally unsettled. The Boston Diocese referred Leonard to the Rev. Joseph Bertolucci of the Albany Diocese for help. Bertolucci served at a Little Falls Church from 1976 to 1980 and was removed from clergy service in 2002 for sexually abusing children, Aretakis said.

Bertolucci, knowing of Leonard's abuse, allegedly conducted an unnecessary exorcism on Leonard in 1980, saying he was possessed by three demons, Leonard said in his opposition papers to the court. He was charged $6,000 for the procedure.

Instead of helping, the exorcism attempt, which should not have been performed in the first place according to Diocese rules, plunged Leonard into deeper mental distress. He was hospitalized for months and later attempted to commit suicide, Aretakis said.

In the early 1990s, the abuse was continued by the Rev. Anthony Curran, also of Little Falls. Curran too, allegedly took advantage of Leonard's weakened mental and emotional state, showing him pornographic material and eliciting sexual conduct, Leonard said.

In July 2004, Leonard filed one suit against the Albany and Boston diocese.

Leonard and Aretakis claim the case should be tried in Massachusetts courts since it was the Boston Diocese that recommended Leonard to Albany.

"It was part of a continuing course of conduct," Aretakis said. "Albany's involvement is strictly linked to the Boston Diocese; They're so interconnected."

The Albany Diocese argues that the case should be tried in New York because that is where the specific incidents of alleged abuse took place. The Diocese also claims travel and rooming expenses would be too high should the trial take place in Massachusetts.

Which state the suit is held in makes a world of difference because if held in New York, there is a good chance the trial will be thrown out due to the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a given time period in which a suit may be filed. Once the limit is up, the plaintiff can no longer sue.

"(The Albany Diocese) is trying to say, 'Fine, David was abused as a child in Massachusetts. That has nothing to do with us now,'" Aretakis said. "But Boston sent him to Albany where it continued."

Massachusetts is allowing cases to be heard and won by plaintiffs despite the statute of limitations.

Aretakis is currently representing 150 people in sexual abuse cases involving various diocese, 20 or 30 of which have successfully been moved to other states, he said.

Aretakis expects Massachusetts to make a decision on the opposition by December.

"I'm pretty optimistic that we'll win," Aretakis said. "Bishop Hubbard is just stalling. But as they say, 'Justice delayed is justice denied.'"


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