Lawsuit: Former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard sexually abused teen

By Steve Hughes, Rachel Silberstein And Mike Goodwin
Albany Times Union
August 15, 2019

Bishop Howard Hubbard is pictured in his office Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, at the Albany Diocese Pastoral Center in Albany, NY.
Photo by John Carl D'Annibale

Attorney Jeff Anderson, left, points to a list of perpetrators in the Diocese of Albany as he announces 20 lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese on the first day the Child Victims Act at the Hilton Albany on Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2019 in Albany, N.Y. Survivors Bridie Farrell and Mark Lyman stand at right. The act allows a one-year period...

Claim included among first lawsuits filed as Child Victims Act goes into effect

Former Bishop Howard Hubbard is accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy during the 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The suit was among 427 claims filed across the state Wednesday on the first day of the newly enacted Child Victims Act. They name as defendants individuals and organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America, Catholic dioceses and other religious groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses, which has its world headquarters in Orange County.

The suit accusing Hubbard claims he and the Rev. Paul Bondi of St. Mary's Parish in Ballston Spa abused a boy identified only by the initials P.R.

Hubbard, who led the diocese for 37 years until his retirement in 2014, is accused of abusing the boy when he was 16; Bondi is alleged to have abused the boy when he was between the ages of 12 and 15. The boy's family belonged to the parish when the alleged abuse took place, the suit states.

"From approximately 1994 through 1998, Father Bondi and Bishop Hubbard exploited the trust and authority vested in them by defendants by grooming P.R. to gain his trust and to obtain control over him as part of Father Bondi and Bishop Hubbard's plan to sexually molest and abuse P.R. and other children," the lawsuit filed by the the Marsh Law Firm alleges.

Hubbard, 80, did not respond to a request for comment, but his lawyer called the allegation untrue.

"I don't dispute this young man was a victim, but it was certainly not at the hands of Bishop Hubbard," Ann Hurley said.

In a statement, the Albany Diocese called the allegations "extremely distressing for the Diocese of Albany," while noting that Hubbard "is entitled to be treated in the same manner as any other priest or deacon who has been accused of abuse.

"The diocese has clear policies and procedures in place when such accusations arise, and we expect those to be followed in this case, and in every case," the diocese said. "It is critically important to remember that, like anyone else, Bishop Emeritus Hubbard enjoys the presumption of innocence, and we will withhold any judgment until all the facts are known and this case is resolved. We take all allegations seriously and pray for all who come forward with allegations."

The diocese noted that, in accordance with Pope Francis' recently updated reporting guidelines, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger had informed the Papal Nuncio — the Vatican's diplomatic office — as well as Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, of the legal claim against Hubbard.

"After his conversation with the Cardinal today, Bishop Scharfenberger reported that Cardinal Dolan urged full cooperation with the investigation, expressed gratitude to Pope Francis ... and offered prayers for all involved," the statement said.

The lawsuit, which does not go into detail about the abuse allegedly suffered by P.R., was one of dozens of legal actions filed Wednesday detailing allegations of decades-old abuse of children in the Capital Region by priests in the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese and leaders in the local Boy Scouts council.

Wednesday was the first day in which lawsuits could be filed under the provisions of the Child Victims Act, a new state law creating a one-year "look-back" period for the filing of previously time-barred abuse lawsuits against alleged abusers and the institutions that may have covered up their predations.

The lawsuits filed against the diocese also name a number of local parishes and schools as places where abuse took place.

They allege that the diocese and other institutions knew for decades that its priests, clergy, religious brothers, religious sisters, school administrators, teachers, employees, and volunteers were using their positions to groom and to sexually abuse children and failed to protect them.

The lawsuits also allege that the leaders of those institutions then spent years scheming to keep the abuse allegations from reaching the public.

A second law firm, Jeff Anderson & Associates, filed 19 separate suits against the Albany Diocese on Wednesday. The filings mention 13 alleged abusers, including eight who were previously not publicly known.

At least 11 people are suing the Albany Diocese over alleged abuse that took place at Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons High School in Schenectady.

Brother James Vincent Hanney, who taught at the high school in the 1970s, is alleged to have preyed on male and female students. In 1971, students at Bishop Gibbons found a photograph of Hanney and two young men sitting on a picnic table and they were completely naked. The photo was brought to the school's principal, who took no action, the suits allege. He continued to have unrestricted access to children, frequently taking them on retreats to Christ House in Lafayette, New Jersey, where he would later work.

Jeanne Marron, who says she was sexual assaulted and raped by Hanney over the course of five years and filed a separate legal action in February, spoke of the uphill fight for the passage of the Child Victim's Act.

"Gratitude is the feeling I was struck by this morning," she said at a news conference in Albany on Wednesday.

It is believed that Hanney left the order in 2008. In 2013, the Christian Brothers found Hanney unfit to minister to children and teens. He is believed to be living in the Philippines.

New alleged abusers named in the filings include Father Joseph Estabrook, who died in 2012, and Father Thomas R. Gilmartin, both of whom worked at parishes in the Averill Park area.

Another law firm, Herman Law, filed five suits against the diocese on Wednesday and said more were coming. The lawsuits allege abuse at St. Colman's Home, an orphanage in Watervliet, and St. Teresa of Avila school in Albany.

Three sisters are suing, alleging that a nun, Sister Regina Losee, sexually abused them between 1957 and 1964 when they were 12 or 13. Losee digitally penetrated them when they told her they had gotten their period, the suits allege. Susanne Robertson, one of the victims, said in her lawsuit that Sister Regina also did not act when the girls were sexually abused by various staff members. Sister Regina died in 2012.

Two of the sisters also accuse Guy Vosberg, a maintenance worker at St. Colman's, of sexually abusing them. One of the women also says she was sexually abused by Paul Donahue, a mentally disabled resident of St. Colman's Home.

The other two suits accuse Eugene Hubert, a former priest working as a janitor at St. Teresa's, of sexually abusing two boys when they were 12 or 13 around 1978. Herbert died in 1997.

The suits filed Wednesday include one filed in federal court. A Berkshire County, Mass., woman filed a lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Albany alleging she was sexually abused and assaulted from 1995 to 2000 when she was a minor by Neil Gardner, the former Stephentown highway superintendent. The woman's attorney, Stephen Coffey, filed the lawsuit in federal court because his client now lives out of state. The lawsuit names Gardner, the town, and an ice cream shops Gardner owns. The woman, who worked for Gardner, alleges that photos were also taken of the abuse and sold at town highway garage, the lawsuit alleges.

The Boy Scout council faces allegations two Scout leaders in the Twin Rivers Council, David Perkins and Harold Cloud, and older scouts at Camp Boyhaven in Middle Grove abused younger scouts in the early to mid-1970s.

"Despite decades of knowledge that its Scouting program was a magnet for child molesters, the (Boy Scouts of America) failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from being sexually abused," the lawsuit alleges. "Even worse, the BSA actively concealed the widespread sexual abuse of young boys that occurred as a direct result of its supposedly 'safe' program and 'trustworthy' Scout leaders and volunteers."

The national organization was ultimately forced to disclose it had for decades maintained so-called "perversion files" on scout leaders credibly accused of sexual abuse. The lawsuit filed by the Marsh firm notes that in 1972, a Boy Scout executive who oversaw the files "asked the other Scout Executives to keep the files confidential 'because of the misunderstandings which could develop' if the public learned of the files."

The state Office of Court Administration has assigned 45 judges, including five in the Capital Region, to handle the lawsuits.


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