Some of the newly accused priests served in Finger Lakes area parishes
By David L. Shaw
Finger Lakes (NY) Times
June 10, 2018
GENEVA — Eight Catholic priests in the Diocese of Rochester, several of whom served in Finger Lakes parishes, are being accused of sexually abusing children by a group called Road to Recovery.
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston made the allegations in Rochester Wednesday.
The Law Offices of Mitchell Garabedian did the groundbreaking work in the Boston clergy sexual abuse cases that were the subject of the acclaimed movie “Spotlight.” It involved bringing to justice a number of priests and other sexual abusers, as well as their employers, including the Archdiocese of Boston.
One of those accused last week is the Rev. David Simon, who served at St. Stephen’s Church and was chaplain at DeSales High School in Geneva from 1971-75. He had previously been named as an accused abuser.
Garabedian said his law firm is representing a group of people who say they were sexually abused by the priests in the Rochester Diocese from 1950 to 1978. The alleged victims are now between the ages of 52 and 77.
Peter Saracino of Phelps, a Seneca Falls native, is an advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
He said the latest allegations create mixed emotions.
“I am always heartened when we survivors find the courage to tell our stories. It is a way of healing for many of us,’’ Saracino said.
“It helps other survivors know they’re not alone, that encouragement and support await those ready to tell their truths. It is also a resounding call for transparency and accountability on the part of our spiritual leaders who all too often place church treasury and reputation above the lives of innocent children and their families,’’ he said.
But Saracino said he is also saddened and angered when, after such revelations, church leaders like Diocese of Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano express sorrow, regret and empathy for victims.
“Such displays are disengenuous at best and hypocritical at worst,” he said.
Saracino said that behind the scenes the New York State Catholic Conference of Bishops continues to spend millions of dollars to defeat legislation that would extend the statute of limitations for crimes of sexual abuse, grant a longer period to file criminal charges and create a one-year window for the Rochester Diocese survivors to obtain justice for the violations they have suffered.
“Lamentably and heinously, the bishops’ opposition also means that sexual predators currently serving in parishes around the state will still be in business. Unsuspecting families and their children will still be in harm’s way. Such opposition is a profound betrayal of Catholic families and the church’s very mission,’’ he said.
Saracino said it’s long past time for rank and file Catholics to demand transparency and accountability from their spiritual leaders.
“It is long past time to tell the church leadership in no uncertain terms that the lives of our precious children are worth more than the church’s treasury or reputation,’’ Saracino said. “Sadly, until that happens, children around the state, country and world will continue to be in danger.’’
Saracino was among those who went to Albany in March to protest at the office of Republican State Senate Leader John Flanagan to object to the Republicans removal of the Child Victims Act from the state budget.
Others on the list with local connections are:
• Retired priest Francis Vogt, who served at St. Anne’s Parish in Palmyra of 1978 to 1982 before retiring in 1983.
• Rev. Richard Orlando, who was pastor of St. Michael’s in Lyons from 1969 to 1990. He has died.
• Rev. Eugene Emo, who served at St. Michael’s Parish in Newark in 1975.
• Rev. Charles McCarthy, who served at St. Patrick’s Parish in Macedon from 1960 to 1964. He died in 1971.
• Rev. Gary Shaw, who served at St. John’s in Clyde in 1974.
The other two accused priests are Rev. Thomas Valenti and Rev. G. Stuart Hogan. Hogan died in 1985.
In response to the new accusations, the Diocese issued a statement saying it has been in correspondence for several months with the Garabedian law firm about the eight priests and inviting their participation in a “process of investigation and resolution.’’
The diocese said Emo, Simon and Vogt have been removed from public ministry for sexual abuse of a minor. The diocese said it has never received any complaints of clergy sexual abuse of a minor against Hogan, McCarthy or Orlando, all of whom retired and are now deceased.
The Diocese also said it has never received any complaints of sexual abuse of a minor against Shaw, who resigned from the ministry in 1977 and was dispensed from the clerical state in 1978.
“The allegation against Fr. Valenti was investigated, reviewed and determined to be unsubstantiated. No further complaints of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Valenti have been received,’’ the statement continued.
The Diocese said it treats all claims of abuse “most seriously’’ and has done so for decades, long before the United State Conference of Catholic Bishops issued the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.
The diocese said it has hired Robert J. Lunn, a retired New York State Supreme Court and Appellate Division justice whose practice currently concentrates on mediation and arbitration of civil claims. He is a partner in a Rochester law firm and his time as a judge included extensive experience in reviewing, assessing and resolving claims of sexual abuse.
“If a claimant consents to participate, Justice Lunn will review all required documentation related to the claim, evaluate the merits on a case-by-case basis and make a final decision regarding appropriate compensation for the victim,’’ it states.
The diocese has agreed to accept his determination without appeal.
“I again wish to re-state to the victims and all the faithful my deepest sorrow, regret and empathy for those who have suffered so grievously the sin of sexual abuse,’’ Matano said in a press release.
Matano said victims of clergy sexual abuse of a minor are encouraged to contact civil authorities. To receive help and guidance from the Diocese, please contact Deborah Housel, victim assistance coordinator, at 585-328-3210 ext. 1555 or toll-free at 1-800-388-7177 ext. 1555, or by email at email@example.com.
Upon receiving notification of a claim of abuse, regardless of when it occurred, the Diocese says it will promptly notify appropriate civil authorities and conduct its own investigation. That investigation is reviewed by an independent review board of experts in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology.
The Rev. Thomas Mull, pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva and a Waterloo native, said that right now there is nothing to comment on. He said the lawyer has been advertising on television for weeks, looking for people to make charges.
“These charges are very old and most of those charged are dead. Some have already been investigated and are unsubstantiated. I don’t know how the diocese will be handling them,’’ Mull said.
”I am as surprised as everyone else is,’’ he added.