Alleged Priest Sex Abuse

News 10 Now

November 12, 2008

[with video]

Alleged priest sex abuse

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Attorney John Hayes says he was sexually abused by a priest. As a victim, Hayes says he was able to recognize the signs in one of his clients, Jason Hartley.

"I asked him why he was behaving in a certain way over and over and over. And he just sort of blurted out, 'Well, maybe it's because of the sex abuse at the hands of a priest,'" Hayes said.

The priest was Father David Bonin of St. Mary's of the Lake Church in Watkins Glen. The alleged abuse happened between 1998 and 2001. Hartley has kept it secret until now.

"This a very hard topic to address as a young man," said Hayes.

Jason Hartley is 21 now. Starting when he was about 11, his lawyer says he would come to the St. Mary's rectory and spend nights with Father Bonin, who abused him.

"Friday nights, my client would put drops in his eyes. Saturday nights, another young man put the drops in his eyes. And then they spent the night," said Hayes.

Bonin has since died, but Hayes says Bishop Clark and the Diocese of Rochester are still accountable for not protecting Hartley and others from him and other abusive priests.

"The bishop and diocese for failure to supervise them and for failure to warn all of us about the problem and protect the children are really, really liable for this,” Hayes said.

A spokesperson for the diocese said in a statement, "The Diocese of Rochester has not yet seen the lawsuit and thus we cannot comment on that particular matter."

He says the diocese didn't receive any complaints about Father Bonin until ones from Hartley and one other man last year and those were reported to authorities, parishioners and the public. But Hayes says the bishop and the diocese should have done more.

"They missed that opportunity to say to all of their parishioners ‘it's still happening. It doesn't seem to matter what we do. Priests are still abusing little children. Be careful,’ Hayes said.

...and to come forward, if it happens to you.

Victims are urged to contact authorities, church leaders or organizations like the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

For more information about SNAP, visit

To contact the Diocese of Rochester victims' assistance coordinator, Barbara Pedeville, call (585) 328-3228 ext. 1215 or email


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