Abuse Allegations against Priest Don't Add Up, Parishioners Say

By Ariel Zangla
Daily Freeman
November 26, 2006

Cairo - A group comprising local Roman Catholic parishioners says its priest was not serving in Hudson during the time when he allegedly abused a boy who later became a priest.

The group Grassroots Effort of Parishioners from Sacred Heart/St. Mary's/Our Lady of Knock Parish Community said in a letter earlier this month that the Rev. Jeremiah Nunan did not begin serving at St. Mary's in Hudson until June 18, 1971. Nunan's accuser, the Rev. Mark Jaufmann, says he was sexually abused between the ages of 10 and 13. But that means the abuse would have to have taken place between 1967 and 1969, the parishioners' letter stated.

"Obviously, Father Nunan was not at that parish during those years," they wrote.

The letter said Nunan was assigned to St. Mary's in Little Falls, N.Y., from January 1967 to August 1968 and then Our Lady of Assumption in Latham from September 1968 to June 1971.

Jaufmann said he has never been sure of exactly when the alleged abuse took place - only that it was early in Nunan's tenure at St. Mary's in Hudson.

"I said from the beginning I wasn't sure what dates he was there," Jaufmann said, noting that people tend to remember events from their childhood more clearly than dates.

Jaufmann said he told an investigator with the Independent Mediation Assistance Program that the abuse took place when he was between the ages of 12 and 15.

Jaufmann, 49, is a priest with the Ecumenical Catholic Communion in California. He said his family moved to Hudson in 1967 and he lived there until he went away to college in 1974.

"I find it horrifying that a group of Christian parishioners would find it in their hearts to attempt to disparage someone who is ... the victim of the crime and is trying to seek justice and truth," Jaufmann said.

He added that the parishioners did not know the facts of the case.

Nunan most recently served as the priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham. But he took a leave of absence in February, after the abuse allegations surfaces, as has not returned. He vacationed in Ireland at the beginning of his leave but now is back in the United States, though his current place of residence could not be learned.

The letter from Grassroots Effort described Nunan as "a wonderful, caring person who has been a great leader in our parish and community."

"Many people in our parish community support him and love him and eagerly await his return," it stated.

Jaufmann's allegations against Nunan are being heard by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program (IMAP), which was created in 2004 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to look into allegations of abuse against young people by current or former priests or deacons in the diocese.

In September, IMAP announced it would conclude its work in Jaufmann-Nunan case the by the end of November because inquiries by potential participants had dropped to nearly zero.

Earlier this month, Jaufmann filed a lawsuit against IMAP alleging, in part, that the program was not independent of the diocese, as advertised.


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