Second Former Altar Boy Sues Owego Church
More Filings Expected against Ex-St. Pat's Priest

By Nancy Dooling
Press & Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY)
December 4, 2002

BINGHAMTON -- A former altar boy at St. Patrick's Church in Owego filed suit Tuesday seeking $8 million in damages from the church, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and the Vatican, claiming a priest sexually abused him decades ago.

It's the second such lawsuit filed in a week. Another former altar boy at St. Patrick's sued for $40 million on Nov. 26, naming the same defendants.

And it probably won't be the last claim filed in the case, said the attorney for both plaintiffs, Ronald R. Benjamin of Binghamton. Benjamin expects two more former altar boys at St. Patrick's to file negligence suits next week against the same defendants.

Benjamin said two other alleged victims of the Rev. Albert Cason have approached Benjamin with potential lawsuits. Cason, who was last known to be living in the Finger Lakes region, is named in the lawsuit but is not listed as a defendant.

"The reactions (to the abuse) vary, but they've all been seriously scarred," Benjamin said of the alleged victims. He said one man is a recluse and has never married. The Press & Sun-Bulletin does not publish the names of sex crime victims.

Both plaintiffs are now in their late 30s. They claim they were sexually abused by Cason in 1976. Cason, a co-pastor at the church during the 1970s and 1980s who supervised altar boys, was removed from his ministry for sexual misconduct in 1985. No criminal charges were filed, but he was not allowed to return to the ministry, Diocesan officials said last spring.

Rochester Diocese officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Benjamin said the first alleged victim approached him after reading a published account of the diocese's disclosure last spring.

Benjamin said the church, diocese and Holy See aided and abetted Cason's sexual misconduct and protected Cason, allowed him and others to evade criminal and civil prosecution. Church officials were grossly negligent in placing, supervising and retaining Cason, the suit claims.

Church officials knew that Cason engaged in criminal sexual behavior before he was assigned to St. Patrick's Church, the lawsuit claims.

The mother of the plaintiffs who sued Tuesday had allowed her child to accompany Cason on overnight trips. Cason fondled the boy, who was 12 years old at the time of the alleged incidents, the suit claims. Cason also exposed himself to the boy, the suit alleges.

Cason climbed into the boy's sleeping bag and molested him during a camping trip, the suit claims.

The boy never returned to church, Benjamin said.


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