Priest Gets Probation for Groping Ex-Altar Boy

By Karen Freifeld
New York Newsday [New York]
August 11, 2005

A Catholic priest from Pennsylvania was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years probation for taking a 17-year-old former altar boy to a Greenwich Village hotel and groping him.

The Rev. Albert Liberatore, 41, of Lackawanna, apologized in State Supreme Court in Manhattan and accepted responsibility for inappropriate behavior, his attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said Wednesday.

"He admitted he knew he crossed the line," Gottlieb said. "He cared very much for and about the boy and his family."

In June, Liberatore pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse and admitted he groped the boy at the Washington Square Park Hotel in May 2002

Liberatore, who has been suspended as a priest, was charged with first-degree sodomy and sexual abuse. He could have received 15 years in prison if convicted at trial.

Justice Rena Uviller said Wednesday she would abide by the negotiated sentence of a decade's probation. In addition, the priest must register as a sex offender, cannot have unsupervised contact with minors nor any contact with the victim, who is now 20.

The boy's mother, who is not being identified because of the nature of the crime, told the judge Wednesday that she was very upset the priest had caused great emotional distress to her son and that she could never forgive him.

Liberatore became involved with the victim when he was an eighth-grade altar boy at the Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Duryea, Pa.

In May, Liberatore pleaded guilty to indecent assault and furnishing alcohol to a minor, among other charges, to resolve a case against him in Pennsylvania. He received five years probation.