Former Iona College President Brother James Liguori Named in Child Sex Abuse Suit

By Robert Cox
Talk of the Sound
July 19, 2012

Brother James A. Liguori

A California man has filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by Brother James A. LiguoriBrother+LigouriBrother James A. Liguori in 1969 when the boy at a Cardinal Farley Military Academy in New York. The school was run by the Irish Christian Brothers, a New Rochelle-based Catholic religious order. Brother Liguori is a member of the order and served up until 2011 as President of Iona College.

According to a press statement issued by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an independent, confidential network of survivors of religious sexual abuse and their supporters, the man reported his abuse to church officials in Orange County, CA in 2008. Catholic staffers, including Bishop Tod Brown, met with him and, in emails, a lawyer for the diocese said that she believed his allegations.

The Irish Christian Brothers, however, claimed that the allegations were "without merit" and took no action against Liguori who was, at the time, of the victim's report, the president of Iona College in New Rochelle.

The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America issued a statement:

In his 52 years of service in the order, there was one claim filed against him in 2008. This allegation was swiftly and thoroughly investigated by an external agency, which found the allegation to be unsubstantiated due to major inconsistencies -- including witnesses, whom the complainant provided to investigators and said would corroborate his allegation, who did not corroborate the allegation. An independent external review board accepted the report of the outside investigator and, because the allegation was determined to be unsubstantiated, did not require him to be removed from ministry. As for the apparent allegations circulating on the Internet, we have not seen this claim and therefore cannot comment.
Iona College has issued a statement:
Through an Internet posting, we recently learned of a lawsuit alleging child abuse by former President, Brother James A. Liguori whose employment at the College concluded on September 26, 2011. The College has not seen the lawsuit and therefore cannot comment at this time; instead, it refers questions about the suit to the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers are in support of any victim of sex abuse and their family.

Iona College, founded in the tradition of the Blessed Edmund Rice, has been independent since 1947. The College is not part of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America and is in no way connected to their bankruptcy filing and related allegations.
"It's not often that church officials come out and say that they believe a victim," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (, the nation's largest support group for men and women sexually abused as children in religious and institutional settings. "But then to have the Irish Christian Brothers instantly claim the allegations were without merit and refuse to reach out to other potential victims is reckless and callous."

Last year, the Irish Christian Brothers declared bankruptcy in light of more than 50 child sex abuse lawsuits in the United States and more than 200 in Canada. The order has also been rocked by sex abuse scandals in Ireland.

In January, the New York Bankruptcy Court set a "bar date" of August 1, 2012, for all victims of Irish Brother predators to expose their abusers in court. After that, many victims of the Irish Christian Brothers will no longer have rights in the courts. Doe came forward and filed his sex abuse claim as part of this bankruptcy.

Liguori was the president of Iona College for 17 years. Before that, he was the school's executive vice president, the principal of Rice High School in Harlem, headmaster of Iona Prep, associate superintendent of schools in the New York Archdiocese and the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Newark.

SNAP wants the Irish Christian Brothers to reach out to alums from every school where Liguori and other accused clerics taught and help other potential victims. before the August 1 deadline.

In 2010, Sister Marie Thornton, a nun and the school's vice president of finance for the school, embezzled more than $800,000 from Iona. Liguori and school officials did not call law enforcement to report the matter. The incident came to light through reporting by Talk of the Sound and the Chronicle for Higher Education.

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