Father Mark Jaufmann, Who Accused Cairo Priest of Abuse, Found Dead in LA

By Colin Devries
The Daily Mail

July 9, 2008

CATSKILL — A clergyman who lived the remaining years of his life on the edge of controversy was found dead in a Los Angeles park on March 21, and although investigators have ruled otherwise, his former roommate believes foul play was involved.

Father Mark Jaufmann, chaplain at Glendale Memorial Hospital, was found dead on a trail in Griffith Park. The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office concluded that he died of atherosclerotic heart disease, but his roommate Abet Ramos insists there is more to it than that.

"I have doubts that it was heart disease," said Ramos.

Jaufmann, 51, was at the center of a sexual abuse scandal involving Father Jeremiah Nunan of Sacred Heart Parish in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock in East Durham. Jaufmann accused Nunan of sexually abusing him while Jaufmann served as an altar boy at St. Mary’s in Hudson when he was 9 years old.

In January 2007 an investigation conducted by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program, or IMAP, an agency established by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to provide assistance to those who were sexually abused by a current or former priest, exonerated Nunan of those allegations.

A statement released by the diocese indicated that interviews with Jaufmann, Nunan and "others" were conducted by a former FBI special agent hired by IMAP, and the case was reviewed by the Albany Diocese Sexual Misconduct Review Board.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Diocese accepted the boards’ decision that "there were no reasonable grounds to believe the allegation against Father Nunan."

Nunan was placed on administrative leave of absence during the 11-month investigation and returned to his ministry in Cairo and East Durham after being absolved by Hubbard.

According to Kenneth Goldfarb, director of communications for the Diocese, approximately 20 priests have been removed from active ministry by Hubbard since 2002 because of sexual abuse allegations.

Jaufmann, who went public with abuse claims in January 2006, maintained that he was molested until his death. His attorney, John Aretakis, said he believes that his outspoken criticism of the church’s approach toward suspected abusive priests may have attributed to his death.

"He indicated to me that something in his life was making him fearful," said Aretakis.

Aretakis, an indefatigable advocate for victims of abuse by priests, said he believes that foul play was involved in Jaufmann’s death and that this is another voice suppressed by the church.

"Exposing priests makes you somewhat of a target," said Aretakis.

In addition to the allegations of abuse, a lawsuit was also filed by Jaufmann in October 2006, claiming that IMAP falsely advertised that it was independent of the diocese. Aretakis intends to continue the case posthumously.

"I intend to go forward (with the case) in his memory and for his honor," said Jaufmann. "It’s really about justice now."

Ramos and Jaufmann’s brothers will continue as plaintiffs in the $2 million lawsuit, which named retired Court of Appeals Justice Howard Levine, the New York State Dispute Resolution Association, and the law firm Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna as defendants. Levine was formerly the administrator of IMAP.

IMAP was discontinued in November 2006 because there was little need for it, according to Goldfarb, due to the lack of services rendered.


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