Lawsuit Alleges Abuse by Order Priest Who LED Middle School
By Mike Latona
March 3, 2020
A lawsuit was filed Feb. 19 charging Father Joseph Grasso, CPPS, with sexual abuse of a student in the early 2000s while the priest was principal of Brighton’s Siena Catholic Academy, a diocesan junior high school.
The suit against Father Grasso, a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, was filed in Monroe County Supreme Court by the Buffalo law firm of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria.
According to the complaint — which was amended Feb. 25 to correct the dates and locations of the alleged abuse — Father Grasso “sexually assaulted and committed battery” against an unidentified male student between early January 2002 and sometime in 2003. The suit charges that the abuse took place at Siena Catholic Academy and/or St. Thomas More Church, which are on the same campus. It states that the alleged victim was born in 1990, making him approximately 12 or 13 years old at the time of the alleged abuse.
The complaint was filed only against Father Grasso and not the Diocese of Rochester, St. Thomas More Parish or Siena Catholic Academy. Doug Mandelaro, diocesan director of communications, told the Catholic Courier that the diocese has never received a complaint against Father Grasso for sexual abuse of a minor.
Father Grasso was ordained for the Congregation of Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1992. In addition to serving as principal of Siena from 1998-2004, he taught at Irondequoit’s Bishop Kearney High School from 1995-98 and was principal at two other Catholic high schools in the diocese. He oversaw Rochester’s Aquinas Institute for less than one year before resigning in April 2005, and then was principal at the former Geneva DeSales High School for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 school years until his July 2007 resignation.
In 2008, Father Grasso became chaplain of Stratton VA Medical Center in Albany. He is still in that position and remains a priest in good standing in his order, according to Father Mario Cafarelli, CPPS, director of the congregation’s Toronto-based Atlantic province, to which Father Grasso belongs.
According to the Feb. 19 lawsuit, Father Grasso resides in Rensselaer County near Albany.
HELP FOR VICTIMS
Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities. To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims are encouraged to contact the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Deborah A. Housel, at (585) 328-3228, ext. 1555 (toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555) or by e-mail to email@example.com.