Syracuse Catholic diocese reinstates priest accused of abuse after review
By Patrick Lohmann
February 04, 2020
|In this 1997 file photo, Father Paul Angelicchio poses outside the Holy Family Church in Syracuse.|
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has reinstated a priest who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the early 1980s.
Rev. Paul Angelicchio went on voluntary leave in November while a diocese review board investigated the person’s allegation of abuse.
The review ruled it could not substantiate the allegation, the diocese said in a news release this weekend:
“Based on the information available at this time and the refusal of the complainant to cooperate in an independent investigation, the Diocesan Review Board was unable to substantiate the allegation. Bishop (Douglas) Lucia has accepted the Board’s findings.”
Angelicchio was restored to his position as pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Rome on Saturday, according to the diocese.
An attorney for the alleged victim, Jon Little, said he directed his client not to take part in the review, and he thinks the review board’s decision is premature. He said he had concerns about the review’s integrity based on his experience of the process with a former client, Kevin Braney, who also made accusations of abuse by Angelicchio.
And Little said his client was going to be deposed soon regarding his allegations for his pending civil lawsuit against Angelicchio, making the review board’s interview unnecessary.
“Why would I let them have their investigators talk to my client and then depose my client?” Little told Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard.
Angelicchio is facing two lawsuits for alleged abuse in Onondaga County. Little’s client accused Angelicchio of rape at the Our Lady of Lourdes church in Syracuse in 1980 and 1981 when the plaintiff was a fifth-grader. He filed a lawsuit against him and the diocese in November.
The other lawsuit is by Braney who accused Angelicchio of abuse in the late 1980s. Braney has also accused two other priests of sexual abuse. Those two other priests — James Quinn and Charles Eckermann — are deceased. (Both Quinn and Eckermann appeared on the diocese’s list of priests with credible allegations against them in 2018.)
The diocese suspended Angelicchio in 2016 regarding Braney’s allegations, then cleared him of wrongdoing a month later.
On the same day the diocese announced Angelicchio had been placed on leave in December 2016, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick said his office had investigated and determined there was no proof or evidence of Braney’s allegations against Angelicchio.
Braney’s lawsuit details about two years of alleged abuse, mostly by Angelicchio and Eckermann together at St. Ann’s in Manlius. He alleges Quinn assaulted him separately while visiting Eckermann at St. Ann’s during this time.
Little, the attorney, said the fact that two men who didn’t know each other have accused Angelicchio of abuse at separate times should give more weight to their allegations.
The two plaintiffs “don’t know each other... are distant in age,” Little said. Reinstating Angelicchio "is really, really reckless and an unnecessary chance to be taking when young people are at risk.”
The diocese’s statement said the diocese is “committed to its cooperation with the District Attorneys’ Offices” and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, a set of procedures adopted by dioceses nationwide to prevent sexual abuse of children.
“We continue to pray for and seek to assist all whose lives have been affected by child sexual abuse,” the diocese said in the statement.
Syracuse.com | The Post-Standard does not name victims of alleged sexual abuse without their consent.