Fourth lawsuit alleges sexual abuse by former bishop
By Cayla Harris
October 13, 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
|ERASTUS CORNING II--Mayor of Albany, left, with Bishop Howard Hubbard.
|Bishop Howard Hubbard, left, Gov. Mario Cuomo, center, and Mayor Thomas Whalen, right, march in Albany's annual Martin Luther Kind Day parade Jan. 20, 1986, in Albany, N.Y.
Photo by Arnold LeFevre
|Attorney Jeff Anderson, center, 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. Survivor Jeanne Marron, left, attorney Cynthia LaFave, second from left, and survivors Bridie Farrell and Mark Lyman stand at right. The act allows a one-year period for claims to be filed regardless of the age of the plaintiff.
Photo by Lori Van Buren
|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 for claims to be filed regardless of the age of the plaintiff.
Photo by Lori Van Buren
|Survivor and advocate Bridie Farrell speaks during a press conference where attorney Jeff Anderson, center, announced 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. Survivor Mark Lyman stands at right. The act allows a one-year period for claims to be filed regardless of the age of the plaintiff.
Photo by Lori Van Buren
A lawsuit filed in state Supreme Court in Albany on Friday is the fourth civil action to accuse former Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard of child sex abuse.
The complaint, which does not include specific details, alleges that Hubbard and a second priest — now deceased — abused a child in the late 1980s while the plaintiff served as an altar boy at St. John the Baptist church in Chestertown.
Hubbard, who retired in 2014 after nearly four decades at the helm of the diocese, said in a statement Sunday that he "adamantly" denies any accusations of child sex abuse lodged against him.
Peter Saghir, the plaintiff's attorney, said the alleged abuse involving Hubbard was a one-time incident that occurred when the boy was roughly nine or 10 years old and visited the home of the second priest, Gerald Kampfer.
Saghir said Kampfer, who died in 2003, abused his client "numerous times" between 1988 and 1990. Kampfer served as the pastor of St. John the Baptist from 1981 to 1992, according to his obituary.
Saghir, whose practice is based in New York City, claims the abuse occurred both at the church and in Kampfer's private residence, where the boy is said to have been invited repeatedly.
"It was horrific abuse," Saghir said. "It was something that has obviously stuck with him."
Before one of the earliest home visits, Kampfer allegedly told the plaintiff that Hubbard would also come over. The boy believed at the time that meeting Hubbard "was actually as close to God as he could get without meeting the pope," Saghir said.
He alleges that Hubbard abused the boy that evening.
The plaintiff, who is now 41 years old and recently moved from Warren County to another state, declined through his attorney to speak to a reporter.
Though he is named in the court papers, the Times Union is not identifying the plaintiff because he is an alleged survivor of sexual abuse.
The civil complaint "is a chance to get justice and to hold those accountable in the church who failed to protect him," Saghir said.
The plaintiff filed for bankruptcy in U.S. District Court over the summer, which Saghir said is unrelated to the man's complaint, which names as defendants Hubbard and the Albany Diocese.
Hubbard has repeatedly denied sexually abusing anyone.
"I don’t know if any of the plaintiffs in these court documents were abused," Hubbard said. "If so, I hope they find healing and justice. I can only declare with absolute certitude that I was never their abuser or the abuser of anyone else."
All four suits lodged against Hubbard have been filed under the Child Victims Act, which in August opened a one-year "look-back window" that lifts the statute of limitations, enabling survivors of child sex abuse to sue their alleged offenders. More than 850 cases have been filed statewide under the CVA so far; hundreds have named New York Catholic dioceses as defendants.
The Rochester diocese declared bankruptcy last month as it contended with the scope of claims it faces.
The first claim against Hubbard, filed in August, alleged that the former bishop abused a teenage boy in the 1990s. A second filed the next month accused him and two other Capital Region priests — Francis P. Melfe and Albert DelVecchio, both now deceased — of repeatedly assaulting a teenage girl in the late 1970s at a now-shuttered church in Schenectady.
A third filed earlier this month claimed that Hubbard and a second priest abused a teenage boy at a Troy church in the 1970s. The second priest is identified in the complaint as "Joseph Mato," but the Times Union could not confirm if a priest by that name served at the church. A deceased priest with a similar name was employed by the diocese during that time.
Shortly after the first lawsuit was filed, Hubbard decided to step aside from priestly duties until the cases are resolved. In his response to the latest complaint, Hubbard said "it is worth noting that all of the other priests named in these court filings are now deceased," and he wonders why the allegations had not surfaced during an in-depth investigation into accusations against him in 2004.
Melfe was still alive when the lawsuit accusing him of sexual abuse was filed but died about a week later.
Mary DeTurris Poust, a spokeswoman for the Albany Diocese, said the diocese will no longer comment on individual cases "because we do not want to prejudice any investigation or pending litigation."
“The Diocese of Albany remains focused on survivors, intent on making sure the truth comes out in every case that has been filed," she said.