Bronx sisters reach settlement with NY Archdiocese over sexual assaults in their home by parish priest

By Mikey Light And Larry Mcshane
New York Daily News
July 23, 2019

Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, sisters Imelda Maldonado Davis, 54 and Mercedes Maldonado, 53, who were abused as children by Charles McDonagh, and Michael Meenan, 53, who was abused by another priest in the same parish.
Photo by Mikey Light

Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, (center) and sisters Imelda Maldonado Davis, 54 and Mercedes Maldonado, 53, who were abused as children by Charles McDonagh speak with the press.
Photo by Mikey Light

Two Bronx sisters sexually abused by a trusted parish priest inside their home during the 1970s reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of New York over the childhood assaults.

“In bringing this into the light, the evil cannot hide and we can begin the healing process,” said Imelda Maldonado Davis, 54, at a Tuesday news conference outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “And we can protect all of our children.”

She was joined by her younger sister Mercedes, who was also targeted by the late Monsignor Charles McDonagh beginning back in 1972 and continuing for several years. McDonagh, then a Bronx parish priest, was later promoted to secretary to Terence Cardinal Cooke and his successor John Cardinal O’Connor.

The sisters, joined by Road to Recovery co-founder Robert Hoatson, declined to discuss the financial specifics of the settlement other than to say in was in the “five-figure range.”

Davis recalled how excited the family was initially when the priest came to visit their home. But their delight eventually turned to dread as the predatory priest would slip upstairs and into the girls’ bedroom.

“We would dread the sound of the stairs creaking,” recalled Imelda. "We knew what was coming. Father McDonagh would sit on our beds and proceed to talk quietly to us … then he would molest my sister and I.

“This has affected me in ways that are difficult and painful to articulate.”

Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials and administrators of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program will not reveal any information about settlements reached with accusers.

“The IRCP has been very successful in helping people who suffered abuse by a bishop, priest or deacon of the archdiocese, and we encourage anyone with a complaint to go first to law enforcement, but then to consider filing a claim with the (program),” added Zwilling.

According to Imelda, an older third sister was also targeted by the priest during the abuse that allegedly continued for five years. McDonagh died in 1999.

“I wasn’t brave enough at the time to confront him,” said Davis. “I just didn’t understand it at the time ... The man violated my trust, and the trust of my whole family.”


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