Catholic Diocese Denies Responsibility for Overseeing Priest Charged with Sex Abuse

By Julia Green
Catskill Mountain News
August 18 2010

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has filed an affidavit in answer to a civil suit filed on behalf of alleged victims of sex abuse and their families, claiming the Diocese is not responsible for overseeing Father James J. McDevitt in his role as priest at the Sacred Heart Parish in Margaretville.

In the affidavit, which includes a deposition by Richard N. Farrell, the chief financial officer for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, Farrell contends that at the time of the incidents, McDevitt was not technically in the employ of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, but rather was employed by an organization called the McNeirny Community Service Corporation.

Farrell states that the Diocese “did not issue W-2 statements to Rev. James J. McDevitt for his ministry as pastor of Sacred Heart Church,” and that the McNeirny Community Service Corporation, a New York not-for-profit corporation, issued the W-2 statements to McDevitt.

“They’re trying to have the Diocese get out of any obligation to pay for anything it’s determined the priest might have done wrong,” said Michael Jacobs, the attorney representing several families in the civil suit. “We have to respond to that motion and ask that the Diocese not be excluded.”

The civil suit seeks damages from McDevitt and from the Diocese, which it charges with failing to exercise reasonable care in neglecting to investigate McDevitt’s use of church funds.

The filing of the civil suit came nine months after McDevitt was arrested on 20 counts stemming from his alleged sexual misconduct involving six males between the ages of 11 and 19. The misdemeanor charges include six counts of second-degree sexual abuse, seven counts of forcible touching, six counts of endangering the welfare of a child and one count of third-degree sexual abuse. McDevitt is currently free on $1,000 bail.

McDevitt is scheduled to reappear in the Town of Middletown Court on Thursday, May 13, at 10 a.m.


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