Former Iona President Accused of Child Abuse [update]

By Michael Woyton
The Patch
July 19, 2012

A lawsuit has been filed in New York courts accusing former Iona College President Brother James Liguori of sex abuse and a subsequent cover up.

Joelle Casteix, western regional director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), posted a media statement outlining the accusations Thursday.

According of Casteix, the suit charges the victim, known as "John Doe," was allegedly sexually abused by Liguori in 1969. At the time, the boy was at a Cardinal Farley Military Academy, which is run by the Irish Christian Brothers, in New York.

"Doe," who now lives in Orange County, CA, reported his alleged abuse to church officials there in 2008.

While a lawyer for the diocese said she believed Doe's allegations, the Irish Christian Brothers took no action against Liguori, claiming the allegations were without merit," Casteix wrote.

Liguori retired from Iona College in 2011. He was president of the college for 17 years.

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"Doe" is represented in the lawsuit by attorney Joseph George of Sacramento. George did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

The Christian Brothers issued the following statement through a spokesman:

"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 sent out an email, a copy of which Patch obtained, to the college distribution list. The email stated the college hadn't seen the lawsuit and therefore couldn't comment on it.

The email continued: "[I]nstead, it refers questions about the suit to Mr. Steve Mangione, spokesperson for 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."

According to SNAP's statement, the Irish Christian Brothers, now known as the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, declared bankruptcy in 2011, "in light of more than 50 child abuse lawsuits in the United States and more than 200 in Canada."

The New York Bankruptcy Court in January set a date of Aug. 1 for all victims of the Irish Brothers to file lawsuits, after which they will have no rights in the courts.

"Doe," Casteix wrote, filed his sex abuse claim as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Efforts to locate Liguori were not successful.

Check back with Patch for more on this story.


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