Parishioners defend priest accused of abuse

12 News
December 20, 2015

Several parishioners in Pearl River are defending a local priest accused of abuse.

[with video]

MANHATTAN - Protesters gathered outside Saint Patrick's Cathedral Sunday morning in the wake of child sex abuse allegation against a Pearl River priest.

Monsignor John O'Keefe, a former priest at St. Margaret of Antioch, is being investigated by the church following multiple abuse allegations.

Among the protesters was a Bronx man who says his childhood abuse at the hands of a priest was covered up by Msgr. O'Keefe.

Kirk Balay says he was among a number of students being sexually abused by a priest under O'Keefe's watch at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx.

"The genesis of distrust between my mother and I began because of Father O'Keefe lying to my parents, saying that I was never abused," says Balay.

O'Keefe went on to lead Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains before being assigned to St. Margaret of Antioch Parish in Pearl River.

This week, the Archdiocese of New York revealed that on two occasions in the 1980s O'Keefe was accused of a abusing a minor, once in the Bronx, where the victim lived, the other in Virginia during a trip.

Robert Hoatson, who heads the nonprofit Road to Recovery, is calling on Cardinal Timothy Dolan to impose tougher sanctions against O'Keefe and other priests accused of child sex abuse.

O'Keefe has denied the allegations, and charges will not be filed against him because the alleged abuse happened over 30 years ago and the statute of limitations has run out.

The Archdiocese of New York says it has suspended O'Keefe, launched an investigation and placed him under supervision.



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