38 more people sue Syracuse Catholic Diocese, claiming abuse by priests
By Marnie Eisenstadt
June 17, 2020
|The Christopher Columbus statue and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception stand sihouetted against the evening twilight sky in downtown Syracuse on Wednesdayn October 25, 2017.|
Photo by Michael Greenlar
Nearly 40 new lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, alleging child sex abuse by priests and a teacher.
The suits filed today alleged allegations of abuse that happened at the hands of priests in parishes across Central New York, spanning more than 50 years.
The lawsuits were filed under the New York State Child Victims Act, and join 40 suits already filed against the diocese under the act.
Four priests named in today’s filings are being sued by multiple people, according to lawyers from Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave, Wein & Frament, which together filed 32 suits. Lawyers from Marsh Law also filed six new cases.
The claims include:
Monsignor Charles Eckermann, who was defrocked over allegations of child sex abuse in 2014 and died in 2016, was accused by four more people. The complaints of abuse span nearly 30 years: from 1958 to 1983. Eckermann was removed from the priesthood after the church deemed credible allegations that he molested an altar boy in Manlius.
The Rev. Chester A. Misercola is named by three people, who alleged that he abused them when he was at Bishop Cunningham Catholic High School in Oswego. He worked there from 1970 to 1992, according to the firm. Misercola was removed from ministry in 2002 over allegations of child sex abuse. He died last year.
The Rev. Edward C. Madore was named by three people in the new suits; he had already been accused by two others in suits previously filed, lawyers said. One of those suits alleges that Madore, who had worked at churches in Rome and Binghamton, abused an 8-year-old altar boy in 1976.
The Rev. Bernard A. Garstka is named in three of the complaints. Two of the allegations of abuse come from his time at St. Patrick in Taberg, according to the lawsuits. Garstka died in 1982.
Misecola and Garstka are dead, but lawyers said the diocese has refused to give out any information about where Madore is. Taylor Stippel said they were told Madore was removed from active ministry but she’s concerned he may be somewhere where he still has access to children.
“This abuse by these clerics was continuous, insidious. And it went on for years and years and years,” said Cynthia LaFave. “The diocese and bishops should have known; it could have been stopped.”
Danielle Cummings, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said the diocese has not seen the new lawsuits but that it takes every allegation of sexual abuse seriously.
“We continue to pray for the healing of those who have been harmed in the past and continue to be vigilant in our safe environment protocols in order that this very dark chapter in the church will never happen again,” Cummings said in a statement.
The two firms also filed more than 50 cases against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and priests there earlier this week.
“It’s really, really hard to come forward and to share this secret,” Anderson said. “But not nearly as hard as it was to hold it in and carry this pain, sorrow, for decades.”
The deadline to file under the act is Aug. 14. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order extended the deadline Jan. 14, 2021, because of the pandemic, but attorneys who handle the suits worry that the order will be challenged and are trying to file all of their cases by the August deadline.