Priests Accused of Sex Abuse Remained in Ministry, Former Bishop Admits
By Ginny Ryan
WHAM 13 ABC
July 6, 2020
Rochester, N.Y. — For the first time, and under oath, Bishop Emeritus Matthew Clark has admitted priests accused of sex abuse continued to serve in ministry.
The bishop's testimony came as part of bankruptcy proceedings for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester.
In his own words, he offers a rare look into how priests accused of sex abuse were handled.
"In times past, there was no accountability," according to Jeff Anderson, an attorney for sex abuse survivors. "There was not an opportunity to take this kind of deposition and ask a broad range of questions."
During a three-hour deposition, Bishop Clark was questioned about more than 50 priests accused of abuse. Some, he said, he did not remember.
But there are many he did, including Rev. Eugene Emo.
During questioning, Bishop Clark admitted to sending Rev. Emo away for treatment and then reassigning him to a parish within the diocese in which the accused priest would have access to children.
"The big takeaway is that he candidly admits that he and top officials have chosen to conceal the abuse of so many offenders to send them to treatment and to put them back in parishes and to transfer from parish to parish and not tell the public, not tell the police," Anderson said.
Bishop Clark is 82 and has been diagnosed with early Alzheimer's disease. Diocesan officials had objected to him being questioned.
On Monday, the diocese issued a statement, saying he was hindered by his disease.
"As a result of these limitations, the deposition is in many instances imprecise and inaccurate and thus calls into question whether it is a credible addition to the bankruptcy case record," the statement continues.
The bankruptcy judge allowed the former bishop's testimony and ordered it released to the public with minimum redactions.
Attorneys for survivors say it is a moment of reckoning in a long and painful journey.
"The real significance in having the deposition testimony revealed is that their voice is now heard," Anderson said.
Hundreds of sex abuse survivors are seeking claims against the diocese as part of the bankruptcy case.
Time is running out for many survivors who have may have claims. The Child Victims Act in New York is set to expire on Aug. 14.