Priest's Defense Fund Probed
Indicted in N.Y.: Broderick Insists He Passed Polygraph Test on Child Abuse Claims

By David Winters
Watertown Daily Times
October 10, 2008 Priest+s+defense+fund+probed

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va., is looking into a legal defense fund created by a former St. Lawrence County priest accused of sexually abusing three children in New York.

The Rev. John W. Broderick, 47, whose last known address was Nicholville, was indicted by a Montgomery County grand jury last month on three felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and misdemeanor counts of child endangerment. He is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with three children, ranging in age from 5 to 11, over a few months in 2007.

The priest was involved with the Dominican Sisters — a Catholic group not recognized by the Vatican — who run the Holy Name of Jesus Academy in Massena. He worked there from mid-2007 until his arrest in February at the school. No complaints were filed against him in Massena.

A two-page letter sent Tuesday by the priest seeks money, anywhere from $100 to $10,000 or more, to help cover his legal expenses. He proclaims his innocence after reportedly passing a polygraph test.

"I have been falsely accused of committing crimes against three children under the age of 11. These charges are untrue. I am not guilty of these crimes. I have already taken the polygraph (lie detector) that corroborates my innocence," Broderick wrote. "It is not only my individual reputation at stake in these proceedings. The Catholic Faith and The Catholic Priesthood are also called into question when these charges are level against any priest."

His defense attorney backs up the innocence claims.

"The polygraph was done a couple weeks ago in my home and he passed it," said defense attorney John J. Broderick, who isn't related to the priest. "There's no question in my mind that he's innocent."

The letter requests people to send donations to the "The John Broderick Fund" at a Thomas, W.Va., address — a post office box belonging to the St. Thomas Aquinas parish there. Diocesan officials were made aware of the letter and reputed fund Wednesday.

"We have not heard of the John Broderick Fund," Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston spokesman Brian Minor said Thursday. "Those types of funds that are done outside of the parish have to be approved by our bishop. Our diocese has not approved this fund and he isn't affiliated with our diocese."

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston encompasses the entire state of West Virginia.

New York City attorney John A. Aretakis, who represents the Montgomery County children reportedly abused by the priest, said the defense fund is appalling.

"It's outrageous that he's doing something like this," Mr. Aretakis said.

The defense attorney said his client plans to move the defense fund address to Syracuse. The priest reportedly placed the West Virginia address on the letter because he has a friend who lives there who offered to help.

Mr. Broderick declined to identity that friend. The priest couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

His trial is scheduled to start in early November.



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