Priest accused yet again – two men say he raped them in Brooklyn grade school

By Rocco Parascandola
Daily News
June 23, 2019

Rev. John Abrams

Two men have accused a priest, who is now dead, of raping them in the rectory at their Brooklyn parish in the 1980s, the Daily News has learned.

The allegations were laid out Friday in an order to show cause filed by their lawyer, Keith Sullivan, in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, which names the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Church of St. Patrick. They have accused the Rev. John Abrams of raping them when they were students and altar boys at St. Patrick Catholic elementary school in Bay Ridge.

They were 10 to 13 years old at the time. Both graduated in 1987. They knew each other, according to Sullivan, who was hired by one victim several months ago, then learned of the second victim while investigating the allegations.

According to affidavits filed by the men, who are in their 40s, they met Abrams, who was assigned to St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, while in sixth grade. He befriended them and their friends, and drove them to various places, such as a Bensonhurst bike store, movies and Jones Beach. The men were identified in the affidavits as John Doe.

“During these rides Father Abrams supplied us with beer, cigarettes and pornographic magazines,” one of the men said in the affidavits. "It was also during this time that Father John Abrams lured me into his residence inside St. Patrick’s rectory and sexually assaulted me and raped me on numerous occasions.

“To this day, and every day that I am alive, I have been haunted by what Father John Abrams did to me."

Abrams was moved to another Brooklyn church in 1988. A year after that he was placed on “sick leave” until 1997, and then retired.

In the early 2000s, several other men accused Abrams of violating them when he was pastor at Bayside’s Sacred Heart before moving to St. Patrick in 1982.

In 2007, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio announced that the Diocesan Review Board had found sufficient evidence that Abrams, then 83, had violated students while at Sacred Heart. He was barred from public ministry and defrocked. He died in 2008.

Sullivan said the diocese has already paid about $2 million in claims from men who were students at Sacred Heart, plus at least two others who attended St. Patrick.

He said he filed the order because he was all about ignored after speaking with a Diocese lawyer about a settlement to be paid from a compensation fund it established for sex abuse victims -- and then got no response from DiMarzio.

Sullivan said in court documents that he believes the Brooklyn Diocese is fearful of going bankrupt and and that an investigation conducted by his office learned that the diocese "has taken steps to limit their liability against future claims for sex abuse at the hands of priests. One measure was to reclassify Diocesan priests as independent contractors and give them a 1099 so they are not classified as salaried employees; thus, limiting liability for their actions and/or misdeeds,” Sullivan said in one of the documents.

“Additionally, we were advised … that the Diocese may have transferred significant financial real property and liquid assets into their own Cemetery Trust Fund or its functional equivalent...," it said.

He also noted that earlier this year, following the passage of the Child Victims Act, DiMarzio acknowledged in an open letter to the faithful “the devastating toll child sex abuse takes on its victims and its effects throughout adulthood.”

“We have taken steps to assist survivors in healing from the damage,” he said in the letter.

Not so, Sullivan said.

“I find it hard to square their unprofessional tactics with Christian teachings,” he told The News. “The church is dead wrong for ignoring victims who are now entitled to justice under the recently enacted Child Victims Act, a law they vehemently opposed for years.”

The Diocese of Brooklyn said in a statement on Saturday that it had not yet been served with the order to show cause. But, it said, "When the attorney reached out to the diocese, it was after the IRCP (Independent Reconciliation and Compensation program for Victim-Survivors of Abuse) had closed in January of 2019. He was told that if the IRCP were to reopen, his clients would be permitted to enter.

“Right now the IRCP has not reopened as the private funding has still to be put in place. It is expected to reopen shortly for those who have posted late claims as of this date,” the diocese said.

“We still encourage anyone who wants to make an allegation of abuse to call our Independent Reporting Line, 1-888-634-4499. All reports generated are immediately reported to the appropriate District Attorney,” it said.

“Sexual abuse is a heinous crime and the Diocese of Brooklyn is deeply committed to working with victims through our Office of Victim Assistance, which provides referrals for therapy, support groups for survivors and a yearly Healing Mass to pray for all who have been impacted by sexual abuse.”


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.