Cops Check Priest-Abuse Claims

By Alison Gendar
The Daily News
January 11, 2008

State police have interviewed two of the alleged abuse victims of Monsignor George Zatarga - possibly the first step toward criminal charges, law enforcement sources said Thursday.

Zatarga, 65, was removed from the American Martyrs Parish in Bayside, Queens, last month after admitting to "inappropriate behavior" with at least five young men during his 40-year career in the Brooklyn Diocese.

While three of the victims, all in their 40s, allege their abuse happened when they were in their teens, two of the victims told investigators Zatarga had molested them in the past two years at the priest's country home in Greenfield, N.Y.

A state police investigator met with the two men, in their late teens and early 20s, earlier this week after the Saratoga County district attorney's office opened an investigation. Zatarga has not been interviewed by investigators. He has gone to a counseling facility in Silver Spring, Md. - calls there have not been returned.

Other victims have contacted the Daily News since the story of the priest's admission broke last month.

One man, now a 39-year-old lawyer in New York City, said Zatarga had taken him to the country home when he was a student at Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens. The priest, then Molloy's chaplain, told the teen to strip and stroked his shoulders and inner thigh. Like other victims, the lawyer said he had told his mother but never reported it to authorities.


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