Action against Diocese Tossed

By Marc Parry
Albany Times Union

August 27, 2008

SCHENECTADY -- A state judge has dismissed a complaint against the Albany Catholic Diocese and Bishop Gibbons High School in a case that involved a teenage girl who accused a former county politician of sex abuse.

The girl alleged that former Schenectady County Republican Chairman Armando Tebano fondled her in 2005 while they watched a movie at his home. She was 14 at the time.

The lawsuit, which also named Tebano, said Bishop Gibbons kept her from attending school because of the case. The suit, filed by attorney John Aretakis, sought $2 million.

The suit accused the defendants of negligence in failing to provide the girl proper counseling while she was a student and in saying she was not welcome back.Supreme Court Justice Richard T. Aulisi last month granted a motion by the diocese and school to dismiss the complaint against them for failing to state a cause of action. He said the alleged failure to provide counseling might properly be a breach of contract, rather than negligence, claim.

Tebano faced misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching and child endangerment charges. He eventually pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment.

Albany diocese spokesman Kenneth Goldfarb said the decision "speaks for itself."

"This complaint in its entirety has been dismissed as it pertains to the high school and diocese," he said.

In the suit, the girl's mother said her daughter began to have behavioral and emotional problems at the Catholic high school because of the case. Her daughter left school for home tutoring for some months, but was behind academically when she returned, the suit said.

The lawsuit alleged the girl's dismissal from school was done the day before the 2007-08 academic year began. It also alleged that the girl's mother didn't learn of the school's decision until her daughter went to retrieve books from the school on Sept. 6. The mother said she called the school and was told by the principal that the school had reviewed the situation and decided not to enroll her daughter. The girl then enrolled in the Schenectady city school system.


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