Former Cardinal Spellman, Stepinac Priest Accused of Sex Abuse at Resurrection Church in Rye
By Mark Lungariello
August 30, 2019
A former Rye priest was accused of sexually molesting an altar boy in the 1970s in a lawsuit filed Thursday under New York’s Child Victims Act.
William T. White is accused of sexually abusing the victim at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye multiple times between 1972 and 1973, when the boy was 11 and 12 years old, according to the suit.
These are the latest allegations against White, who has faced accusations that he sexually abused children while an administrator at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains and Holy Cross in Manhattan.
White also worked locally at Holy Family in New Rochelle for two years in the 1980s and as principal of Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx, according to priest abuse records and previous reports. White, now 86, was defrocked in 2002 while working in Florida. He is believed to still live in West Palm Beach.
The newest allegations filed by White Plains law firm Lowey Dennenberg identify the victim, now 58 and living in Connecticut, only by the initials W.F. Named as defendants are White, the Church of the Resurrection and the Archdiocese of New York.
The suit accuses White of “repeatedly and continuously” abusing W.F. It says the church and archdiocese engaged in “reckless, extreme and outrageous conduct” by providing the priest with access to children.
“Their misconduct was so shocking and outrageous that it exceeds the reasonable bounds of decency as measured by what the average member of the community would tolerate and demonstrates an utter disregard by them of the consequences that would follow,” the suit said.
The victim still suffers from emotional and physical distress as result of the abuse, the suit said.
White was ordained in 1958, according to the archdiocese. In 1997, a man came forward with accusations that White abused him starting while he was a 17-year-old student at Stepinac in the 1970s. The alleged victim was paid a $100,000 settlement.
He left New York after the settlement and went on to work in Florida parishes. He was removed as a teacher from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach in March 2002 and removed from the priesthood.
He was later accused in a 2004 lawsuit of abusing a boy between 1959 and 1961 while working at Holy Cross. The boy was between 9 and 11 years old at the time, according to the suit.
When the New York Archdiocese released a list in April of priests it had deemed had been credibly accused of abusing children, White was on the list. The latest suit is seeking unspecified damages.
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the archdiocese, said the organization has been anticipating lawsuits even as it invites people to consider its “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” which aims to bring compensation to qualified claimants.
“We will carefully review the claims made in this suit, and we ask that people pray for peace and healing for all those who have suffered from the sin and crime of the sexual abuse of minors, wherever it occurred, particularly victim-survivors and their families,” Zwilling said.
The Child Victims Act allows a one-year lookback period that suspends the statute of limitations on sex abuse claims for one year. As of this month, abuse victims may file a claim regardless of when the alleged abuse happened. The act runs through August 2020.