Three Priests Accused of Abusing a Binghamton Boy in the 1970’s
June 22, 2020
A lawsuit filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse alleges a gross pattern of heinous sexual crimes against a Binghamton boy by 3 priests at Saint Thomas Aquinas Church and Catholic Central High School in the 1970’s.
The suit, filed by attorneys at Hinman, Howard and Kattel under the state’s Child Victims Act look-back window, accuses the priest at Saint Thomas and a teacher and an administrator at Catholic Central of repeatedly raping, sodomizing and sexually abusing the boy from the time he was 10 until he graduated at age 18.
Attorneys say the victim, who is now 61 years-old, suffered severe physical and psychological abuse leading to PTSD, anxiety, severe depression and chronic migraines.
NewsChannel 34 does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
The accused are former priests Robert Kloster who was the rector at Saint Thomas, David Pichette, who was a teacher at Catholic Central, and Thomas Zedar who served as the school’s principal and later the Superintendent of Catholic Schools in Broome County.
The graphic abuse is laid out in a lawsuit that was filed in federal court in February.
It alleges that the abuse began in 1969 when the plaintiff served as the lone altar boy for daily afternoon mass at Saint Thomas.
Father Kloster allegedly kept him after services and subjected him to unwanted hugging, kissing and making out.
The suit says the abuse became much worse in 1973 when the victim entered Catholic Central, now named Seton Catholic Central.
Attorneys say Father Pichette and later Father Zedar targeted the plaintiff because he was frequently a disciplinary problem and came from a devout Catholic family.
Both priests allegedly engaged in grooming behavior in an attempt to gain the trust of the victim and his parents.
The civil action accuses Pichette of pulling the boy from detention and taking him to a small office where he kissed and fondled him.
Pichette is also accused of taking the victim on ski trips locally and to Canada and to a cabin in McGraw where he plied him with beer and then forcibly raped and sodomized him.
Zedar’s abuse allegedly began during the teenager’s junior year when the priest became principal at the school.
Attorneys say Zedar would kiss and fondle the victim inside the principal’s office.
The suit alleges that Zedar eventually began taking the boy to his residence next door to the school at lunch time where he got him drunk and forcibly raped and sodomized him.
The attorneys accuse the Diocese of transferring the priests to different parishes and schools in an effort to cover up their sex crimes both before they were assigned to Binghamton and after.
Both Pichette and Zedar were defrocked after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002.
All 3 former priests were included in a list released by the Syracuse Diocese in 2018 of 57 priests who had credible sexual abuse allegations.
A spokesperson for the Diocese says it will not comment on specific cases but says it takes every allegation of child sexual abuse seriously.
In a statement, the Diocese says, “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.”
Attorneys say the plaintiff contracted venereal warts from the abuse and has suffered from substance abuse and addiction, problems with sexual intimacy and a failed marriage due to the trauma.
NewsChannel 34 was unable to contact Kloster and Pichette for comment.
Zedar is deceased.
The suit says Kloster now lives in Old Forge, New York while Pichette resides in North Miami Beach, Florida.
Attorneys James Gleason and Jeanette Warren are looking for potential witnesses who may have information regarding the case.
You can call Hinman Howard and Kattel at 723-5341 or email them individually at JGleason@HHK.com or JWarren@HHK.com.
On Friday, the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse filed for bankruptcy in response to a flood of more than 100 Child Victims Act lawsuits.