Second Man Says He Was Abused by Glen Priest

By Ray Finger

November 19, 2008

Another man has come forward alleging he was sexually abused as a boy by a now-deceased priest who had served at St. Mary's of the Lake Church in Watkins Glen.

Odessa lawyer John Hayes said Tuesday that the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke with him Monday about being molested by Rev. David Bonin in the rectory at St. Mary's and also in hotel rooms on trips he made with the priest and others. He was 8 or 9 years old when the abuse began, and it lasted about three years, he said.

Hayes said the young man came forward after the media reported on a lawsuit he filed last week against the Diocese of Rochester and Bishop Matthew Clark in state Supreme Court.

In that lawsuit, Jason C. Hartley, 21, a former Watkins Glen resident who now lives in Chemung County, alleges that he was molested from age 9 to 12 by Bonin, who died in March 2002 at age 53. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

When Hartley initially made his allegations in 2007, the diocese learned of a similar complaint by a second individual. However, neither the diocese nor Hayes could say Tuesday whether the man who came into Hayes' office Monday was that second person or someone else.

"As we indicated in our earlier statement, the Diocese of Rochester is aware of two individuals who made allegations concerning Rev. Bonin, both in 2007 and approximately five years after his death in 2002. No additional complaints have been received by the diocese since 2007 or, as we indicated in our previous statement, at any time prior to his death," the diocese said in a new statement issued Tuesday.

Legal action was begun for Hartley just before his 21st birthday, Hayes said. However, New York's statute of limitations will prevent the young man who came forward this week from taking legal action because he did not initiate a claim charging injuries sustained as a minor before his 21st birthday, Hayes said.

"The statute of limitations unfairly cuts off victims of childhood sexual abuse, who often do not recognize the emotional and other psychological effects of the abuse until they are adults," he said. "The statute of limitations needs to be changed."

The diocesan statement issued Tuesday says that statutes of limitations protect justice, not prevent it.

"They were created to encourage timely and fair resolution of claims. Over time, memories fade, witnesses die, evidence disappears and fraudulent claims increase. Statutes of limitation require that claims be brought in a reasonable period of time after an incident so that evidence is still available and can be evaluated, witnesses can still be interviewed and the relevant information can still be assembled," the diocesan statement says.

The New York State Bar Association's Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules warned in a 2003 legislative report that waiving the statute of limitations poses real problems for both plaintiffs and defendants, the diocesan statement says.

Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities, the diocese says. To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the diocese, contact Barbara Pedeville, victims' assistance coordinator, by calling (585) 328-3228, ext. 1215 or (800) 388-7177, ext. 1215, or by sending e-mail to, the diocese says.

"To me, the church asking the victims to come to them and tell them is just like asking an abused wife to consult with her husband about how to stop domestic violence," said Hayes, who was himself a victim of sexual abuse by a priest. "They're afraid of the church as a general rule, and that's the last place that they're going to turn."

He recommended that other victims call him at (607) 594-4890 or representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: National Director David Clohessy at (314) 566-9790 or Outreach Director Barbara Dorris at (314) 503-0003.

"I would encourage anyone, no matter how old they are or how long ago it happened, to come forward. To suffer with it in silence -- I know this from personal experience -- and not talk about it is horrific," he said.

"There's always something positive to be gained by coming forward, no matter whether the statute's run or not," Hayes said.

"It's really more about the relief of talking about it than it is about the lawsuits."



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