Catholic Priest Denies Abusing 10-Year-Old

By Bart Jones
The Newsday [Long Island]
June 8, 2007,0,4340495.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

The Rev. Gerald Twomey's attorney Friday vehemently denied allegations that the pastor sexually abused a 10-year-old boy more than a decade ago, while friends and parishioners expressed shock and disbelief that a priest many see as a star in the diocese could do such a thing.

The Suffolk district attorney's office said late Thursday that it was investigating allegations that Twomey abused the boy during 1994 and 1995 while he was at St. Anne's in Brentwood. The allegations were forwarded to prosecutors by the diocese.

The district attorney's office said that even if the allegation against Twomey were substantiated, there will probably be no criminal charges because the statute of limitations, which requires crimes to prosecuted within a certain time, has expired.

"I don't believe a word of it," said Greg Florentino, a parishioner a St. Anne's, where Twomey worked for a decade. "He's just not that type of guy."

Tom St. Pierre, a former priest who was Twomey's long-time co-pastor at St. Anne's, also dismissed the possibility. "I would really doubt it," he said. "I've known Gerry Twomey for over 26 years. I lived in the room next door to him for 11 years. We always had our doors open and were yelling, joking and working together until after 11 each night."

Twomey's attorney, Christopher J. Cassar of Huntington, called the allegation "utterly false" and said they would fight to clear his name.

"I don't think it should have come out publicly until the allegations are substantiated or not substantiated," Cassar added.

Others, however, said the diocese made the right move by suspending Twomey, 53, from his priestly duties pending the outcome of the investigation. They include the Voice of the Faithful, a group Twomey had supported in its calls for reform in the church in the wake of a national sex abuse scandal. The group has clashed with Bishop William Murphy.

"The allegation against him is a serious one," the group said in a statement. "And if proven to be true, his conduct is reprehensible."

Twomey was suspended from his duties as pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Manorhaven after the diocese received the allegation May 31.

Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said Twomey has been temporarily replaced by the Rev. Andrew Connolly, who also has lent some support to Voice of the Faithful.

Frank McQuade, a lifelong friend of Twomey ordained a priest the same year but who later left the ministry, said the allegation devastated Twomey. "He's in a free fall," said McQuade, who has spoken with Twomey. "His heart is broken." McQuade said Twomey told him, "I want to remain a priest."



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