Kentucky Man Says Syracuse Diocese Priest Abused Him

By Kat De Maria
May 24, 2011

[with video]

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Daniel Franz is a 47-year-old husband and father. He manages a successful business in Kentucky.

Franz has never been to Central New York before, but visited for the first time Monday to talk about a traumatic connection to the area that started 30 years ago at a West Virginia camp called Nazareth Farm.

"We spent roughly about a week there doing various projects helping the poor there. And while I was there, the director of the camp, Father David Pichette, sexually abused me on multiple occasions. It was a very traumatic experience because, in my opinion, it was the height of mistrust and abuse of power," Franz said.

Pichette served in the Syracuse diocese and ran the camp for 10 years. Before and after that, he worked in churches and schools in Cortland, Onondaga and Broome Counties.

Franz says it took him more than 20 years to come forward, which he did in 2003. He and Robert Hoatson, a former priest and advocate, say an investigator with the diocese interviewed Franz and found him to be credible, but did not offer compensation.

"They have written to his attorney to say they are not going to do anything else for him except possibly pay for his therapy," said Hoatson, co-founder and president of the Road to Recovery.

Diocesan spokesperson Danielle Cummings says as is their practice, officials have offered to pay for any and all of Franz' therapy.

"I'm somewhat surprised to learn of today's press conference and what has been stated as the diocese has offered assistance," Cummings said.

Franz's lawyer and he say that offer is not enough.

"There have been a lot of other damages that have come that the list would be too long to go over. There needs to be some type of recognition that something happened," Franz said.

Franz' lawyer has asked for a million dollars in damages, but says that figure is negotiable. Meanwhile, Hoatson says the burden of the diocese extends to more than money.

"They have an obligation now to go after the ones who may still be suffering out there," Hoatson said.

Cummings says diocesan officials do not put out information about priests by name, but do encourage anyone who feels they may have been a victim of abuse to come forward.

The Syracuse Diocese provided us with a list of all of David Pichette's assignments. Between 1967 and 1992, he worked at St. Patrick's in Truxton, Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse, Seton Catholic Central High School and St. Patrick's in Binghamton, Blessed Sacrament in Johnson City, St. Margaret's in Mattydale and St. Ambrose in Endicott. He took a leave of absence in 1992, which lasted through his dismissal in 2005.


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