2 women claim late Bishop McGann, LI clergy members sexually abused them

News 12 Long Island
February 19, 2019

[with video]

Two women have come forward with claims they were sexually abused by late Bishop John McGann and other clergy members on Long Island.

News 12 has learned both of the women grew up in the St. Agnes Parish in Rockville Centre and are now in their 60s.

Both women declined to speak to reporters on Tuesday. Their attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, says one woman was repeatedly sexually abused by then-Msgr. John McGann, Msgr. Edward Melton and Father Robert L. Brown. The second woman alleges she was sexually abused once by McGann and Melton and repeatedly by the parish janitor, John Hanlon.

In particular, the women allege that in 1967, when they were both 11 years old, they attended a Christmas party in the St. Agnes rectory. According to their attorney, the women remember being passed around to the laps of multiple priests who were in the room.

Garabedian says the women "were sexually abused on those laps. We're talking about fondling, vaginal penetration, priests drinking alcohol."

Garabedian says they were scared and traumatized but felt empowered by other sexual abuse victims recently coming forward.

All of the accused priests have since died.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre said in a statement: "We take all allegations seriously. Allegations concerning one victim were brought to our attention by Mr. Garabedian on Friday; and those allegations were immediately reported to the Nassau County DA's office the same day."

Garabedian, the attorney for the alleged victims, says he has notified the diocese that each woman is seeking $10 million.

Longtime St. Agnes parishioner Helen Jewell says she finds the accusations hard to believe. She knew all three priests personally, including McGann.

Child sex abuse survivor Harold Siering went to Tuesday's news conference to hear the accusations. Also shocked by the allegations, he says he came across McGann as a boy during his confirmation Mass.

A spokesperson for the Nassau County District Attorney's Office also released a statement saying:

The Diocese notified the District Attorney's office regarding allegations of one of the victims against three deceased clergy members Friday afternoon, February 15, 2019. We have not been notified by the Diocese about the allegations of the second victim who has not yet been identified, but will fully review the matter. The District Attorney's Special Victims Bureau reaches out to all alleged victims of sexual abuse, and we will do so here when we learn the victim's identity.


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