Two Men Allege Abuse at Former St. Teresa of Avila School in 1970s
By Brendan J. Lyons
Albany Times Union
January 12, 2012
|Eugene Hubert, pictured here at a cabin in southern Essex County where he is accused of sexually abusing young boys. Hubert was a custodian at St. Teresa of Avila school in Albany. Three men who were classmates at the school have recounted sexual incidents with Hubert in the 1970s. Two of the men said Hubert raped them. A third, who was raped by a priest in a separate case, said he ran when Hubert exposed himself in a school locker room. Hubert, of Warrensburg, died in 1997. ()|
Two men who attended a former Catholic elementary school in Albany allege they were sexually abused there by a longtime school custodian when they were 12 and 13 years old.
The accusations, which were not made public by the diocese, were first leveled last year against Eugene Hubert Jr., who worked as a janitor at the former St. Teresa of Avila school on New Scotland Avenue in the 1970s, when the alleged abuse took place.
Hubert died in 1997 at the age of 54. His last known residence was in Warrensburg, Warren County. The allegations are under investigation by the Albany County District Attorney's Office. The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese said it also has launched an internal investigation.
The school, founded in 1920, and a parish affiliated with it, were closed by the Albany diocese in 2009 and merged with a neighboring school and parish.
Property records show Hubert also had ties to a camp near Paradox Lake, northeast of Warrensburg, where one of the alleged victims said he and other boys were raped by Hubert when he brought them there on camping trips. The man, who knew Hubert through St. Teresa's school, said the camping trips may have been sanctioned by school officials because he recalled needing to obtain a parental permission slip to go away with Hubert.
Another one of Hubert's alleged victims, Jack Cesare, 47, a resident of South Florida, grew up in Albany and attended St. Teresa's through the 8th grade. Cesare said Hubert approached him on a playground one afternoon in 1977 and asked him to come to the custodian's office after school to discuss a camping trip.
Cesare said Hubert raped him in his office near the gymnasium as two of Cesare's classmates stood outside the school waiting for their friend.
"I just decided it's time for me to come forward," Cesare said. "I'm shaking the rug until every piece of dust is out of this rug."
One of the boys who waited outside the school that afternoon said he also was raped by Hubert. The man, a 48-year-old Rensselaer County resident, spoke to the Times Union on the condition he not be identified, in part, because he has a 10-year-old son. He said he suspected what was happening to Cesare that day because he'd already been raped multiple times by Hubert.
"Right after that, like, the whole school knew about Jack but nobody knew about me. Maybe they did," the man said. "After it happened to Jack I never went up to the camp again. I never said anything to anybody."
The Rensselaer County man said Hubert gave him a fishing pole and also supplied beer and cigars for he and other boys who went to his camp. He recalled that Hubert, who drove a yellow Volkswagen, would pick up other boys in Colonie for their trips to the rustic camp near Paradox Lake in southern Essex County. The man provided the Times Union copies of two photos from the camp. One of the photographs depicts Hubert and a young boy whose identity is unknown.
The man said Hubert allegedly raped him at the school and on a fishing trip to the Mohawk River. He said that Hubert sexually abuse he and other boys at the camp near Paradox Lake. He said Hubert also abused him at a private residence in Delmar where Hubert lived at the time,
"I remember a room out there, like a bedroom off a porch. I went there a couple time," the man said. "I never saw anybody there."
Public records show that Hubert may have lived in the 400-block of Kenwood Avenue in Delmar during the early 1980s.
Kenneth Goldfarb, a spokesman for the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, said church officials have begun a private investigation of the allegations which were brought to the diocese last March.
"The Albany Diocese Review Board is investigating an allegation that a former custodian who worked at St. Teresa of Avila parish in Albany in the 1970s and is now deceased, sexually abused a minor in 1977," Goldfarb said.
Goldfarb said the diocese has not received other abuse complaints involving Hubert "before or since his death. Nor has the diocese received any allegations of abuse at the individual's residence at Paradox Lake."
Cesare said he recalled a health teacher at St. Teresa's putting him on a desk during a class to demonstrate a first-aid procedure for students. He alleges that teacher leaned down and whispered: "Don't worry, I won't tell Gene."
Reached by telephone Thursday and asked about Hubert, that former teacher, now a public school administrator, said: "You get no comment from me. I don't talk to the press." He then hung up the telephone.
Michael Flynn of Watervliet, who was a classmate of Cesare and the other man, is one of several victims who came forward in 2008 and said they were raped by Gary Mercure, a longtime priest in the Albany diocese who was assigned to St. Teresa's parish from 1978 to 1982. During that time, Flynn said, Mercure had raped him while Flynn was an altar boy at the parish.
Mercure and Hubert both worked at St. Teresa's during the late 1970s, but there is no known connection between their cases. Mercure was convicted of three counts of forcible rape in Massachusetts last year. He was sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison for raping two altar boys from the Albany diocese during trips to Massachusetts in the 1980s. Mercure was prosecuted there because under New York's statute of limitations prosecutors were time-barred from bringing any criminal charges.
Flynn said he also had an encounter with Hubert while attending St. Teresa of Avila. Hubert asked Flynn to lock his janitor's office and bring the keys to the boys' locker room where Hubert had gone to take a shower after work.
"He got undressed to take a shower and then when he got out of the shower ... he was stroking himself," Flynn said. "That was the extent of my experience with him because I left. I don't know whether there was any connection between him and Mercure or not."
Flynn said he never told anyone about the encounter with Hubert, even when he and other area men went public several years ago with their allegations about Mercure.
He said Hubert had also invited him to the camp near Paradox Lake.
"I never went," Flynn said. "He told me stories about it, (saying): 'It's really cool, you go there, we sleep naked all the time and I have such a friendly dog, the dog will come up to you and lick your (genitals).'"
David Bentley, a former priest who church officials said lived at St. Teresa of Avila parish from 1977 to 1982, also was removed from ministry by the diocese for sexual abuse allegations involving minors. He was not prosecuted on criminal charges. Church officials said the allegations did not involved students at St. Teresa's parish or school.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares said his office notified the diocese last summer that a prosecution against Hubert is time-barred under the state's statute of limitations, and because of Hubert's death.
But Soares said his office is continuing to examine the circumstances surrounding the case.
"It's important for us to look at all the information and make sure there isn't a viable case there," Soares said. "When the case first came to the office we did not know that (Hubert) was dead. There is an obligation to engage in due diligence. ... I think prosecutors all over the country are asking themselves what are our obligations even though we may be barred by a statute of limitations."
Reach Lyons at 454-5547 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org