Sex Abuse Claim Filed in Connection to Former Rhinecliff Military Academy

By Ken Valenti
Poughkeepsie Journal
July 19, 2012|head&nclick_check=1

Former Iona College president James A. Liguori is pictured in March 2009, when he was named the Westchester Business Leader of the Year

Brother James Liguori, the former president of Iona College, has been accused of child sex abuse in a court filing, a network of abuse victims announced today.

The alleged victim, an Orange County, Calif. man, accuses Liguori of abusing him in 1969 at the Cardinal Farley Military Academy in Rhinecliff, according to a release from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The academy closed in 1970, according to Poughkeepsie Journal archives.

Liguori is a member of the Christian Brothers, and it was the religious order's bankruptcy case, filed last year as the Christian Brothers assets were being drained by sex abuse cases, that opened the window for the case to emerge, said Joelle Casteix, western regional director for SNAP.

"This religious order has been rife with sex abuse scandals everywhere they've gone," Casteix said.

Joseph George, the Sacramento-based attorney for the alleged victim said the victim had been abused in "a couple of isolated incidents" when he was 16 years old and attending the school.

Liguori, the attorney said, was a faculty member at the school, but serve as a a "sort of a mentor" to the victim.

George said the alleged victim he represents first reported the abuse in 2008. At the time, the Christian Brothers claimed the allegations could not be substantiated. Still, he said, the order's officials at first said they would pay for the man's therapy.

"Then they got into a dispute with the therapist," he said. The order wanted the victim to see the therapist once a week rather than two or three times, he said.

A spokeswoman for Iona College had no immediate comment.

It unclear where Liguori is. He retired from Iona College last year after leading the school for 17 years. He retired last year and was replaced by Joseph Nyre, the school's first lay leader.

George supplied The Journal News with a letter from a Christian Brothers official following the initial reports of abuse by Liguori. It said that an investigator for the order had interviewed a dozen former students, teachers and administrators at the military academy.

"Based on the information gathered as a result of this investigation it was not possible to substantiate your allegation," the letter reads.

"I can assure you, however," it continues, "that we have developed and implemented policies and procedures designed to create safe environments which protect minors in all our ministry sites."

Statutes of limitations would likely bar any lawsuit at this point, but the bankruptcy case, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan, gives creditors and others with claims against the order an opportunity to file their claims, said Casteix and George. The claim deadline is Aug. 1, SNAP said.

The Christian Brothers order filed for bankruptcy last year, after it had agreed, in recent years, to pay tens of millions of dollars to sex-abuse victims, and while it still faced dozens of claims in the Seattle area and Canada.

In a court filing, Brother Kevin Griffith, vice president of the Christian Brothers' Institute, said the lawsuits are draining the order's "not unlimited financial resources" and that the order "needs a breathing spell from this Court to resolve the claims asserted by the plaintiffs in the lawsuits, as well as to liquidate assents in an orderly fashion to satisfy legitimate claims."


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