Long Island Diocese Removes Pastor after Sex Abuse Claim Surfaces

International Herald Tribune [Long Island NY]
June 7, 2007

Garden City, New York: The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish has been placed on administrative leave following accusations he sexually abused a 10-year-old boy at a different parish more than a decade ago, a spokesman for the local diocese said Thursday.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island has referred the allegations to the Suffolk County district attorney's office and intends to conduct its own investigation, spokesman Sean Dolan said. The diocese is the country's sixth largest with 1.3 million Catholics in 134 parishes across Long Island.

A spokesman for District Attorney Thomas Spota confirmed prosecutors had been informed of the case.

Pending the result of the investigations, the Rev. Gerald Twomey, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Church in Manorhaven, is barred from performing his duties as a priest and cannot celebrate Mass in public, Dolan said.

A priest at Our Lady of Fatima said Twomey was not at the church Thursday evening and was not immediately available to comment.

In a 2003 Newsday interview, Twomey said he knew what families of abuse victims endure because he had a cousin who was molested years ago at age 11 while serving as an altar boy in Brooklyn.

"People are devastated, not only by the sins of the priests but the denial and the lack of attention to the true victims, these minors who were sexually abused," he said then.

In a May 31 letter to prosecutors, the diocese's Office for the Protection of Children and Young People said the allegations against Twomey stem from an incident "in the period of 1994-95" while he served as co-pastor of St. Anne Church in Brentwood, which is also on Long Island.

The letter said a boy claimed he was sexually abused by the priest. The boy, who at the time was 10 years old and was recovering from a car accident, claimed he was abused in his home, the letter said.

Spota's spokesman, Robert Clifford, said the statute of limitations for sex abuse was five years at the time, so prosecutors are unlikely to file criminal charges.

A Suffolk County grand jury report in early 2003 cited abuse cases involving 23 priests in the Rockville Centre diocese over several decades. The allegations included altar boys being groped and sodomized during church trips and overnight stays at priests' homes. None of those cases was prosecuted — also because statutes of limitations had expired.


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