LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says

By Rebecca Rosenberg
New York Post
May 24, 2020

The St. Anthony of Padua church in Rockville Centre, New York.

A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show.

Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.

Then this past May, several months after the lawsuit was filed, Hein was contacted by an ex-roommate who had attended drug rehab with him in Florida.

“He said he got a call from an investigator asking about the abuse and whether I’d ever discussed it with him,” Hein said of his friend.

The investigator told Hein’s pal that he had been hired by the church to probe the alleged abuse victim’s claims, the plaintiff told The Post.

“I felt like I was being violated again,” said Hein, who has been sober since the 2017 stint at the in-patient facility and recently moved to Colorado for a fresh start.

“How they got [his] information is just beyond me.”

Hein added that he hadn’t discussed the alleged abuse with his ex-roommate and was embarrassed that the investigator had revealed it to him.

“Here they are exposing me,” Hein said. “I feel like they’re trying to dirty my name and intimidate me.”

He said he now fears that the investigator has called other friends and family, too.

Hein’s lawyer recently submitted an emergency motion demanding that the investigator disclose how he obtained the rehab roommate’s information, which should have been protected by privacy laws.

“To possess this information is grossly improper and a violation of both Mr. Hein’s and [the roommate’s] right to privacy,” the court papers state.

In the motion, Hein’s lawyer, Thomas Giuffra, alleges that the Diocese of Rockville Centre has a long, unflattering history of engaging in deception and intimidation to silence victims.

The filing says that the diocese knew of rampant sexual abuse in its confines and failed to protect children.

A scathing 2003 Suffolk County grand-jury investigation documented dozens of abuse allegations against Long Island pastors and priests and concluded that the Diocese of Rockville Centre was incapable of policing itself.

Hein’s suit is one of at least 44 filed in the last year against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which serves Long Island’s Catholics, after the passage of the Child Victims Act.

The legislation has allowed child-sex abuse victims to bring cases during a one-year period even though the statute of limitations has passed.

“What I went through was a nightmare. It really rocked me,” Hein said. “I want an apology, some sort of acknowledgment.”

Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan told The Post, “The Diocese of Rockville Centre takes seriously and investigates every claim of sexual abuse, regardless of how old the accusation may be.

“However, we do not comment on ongoing litigation.”

He would not say whether Cappuccino is still working around kids or whether there are any other allegations of abuse involving him.

Neither Cappuccino nor the investigator responded to requests for comment.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.