Sex Suits Hit Egan, Church

By Dan Mangan
New York Post
February 27, 2004

Fifteen people who claim they were sexually abused as children by Roman Catholic priests from 1944 to 1981 are filing suit today against those clerics, the Archdiocese of New York and its leader Edward Cardinal Egan.

The suit alleges that top archdiocese officials knew for decades that priests were fondling, raping and molesting the then-children and did nothing to stop it, instead perpetuating a cover-up to avoid lawsuits.

As a result, the 12 boys and three girls suffered psychological damage that led to alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts and other ills as adults, according to the suit.

In one case, a girl became pregnant by the Rev. Luis Rios in the mid-1970s, according to the complaint, which is being filed in Manhattan Supreme Court by lawyer Michael Dowd.

In another case dating to 1980, the Rev. Michael O'Herlihy confronted a student at Cardinal Hayes HS in The Bronx, saying he had heard the boy was being sexually abused by a Catholic counselor, the suit claims.

When the boy confirmed that, "instead of helping" him, "O'Herlihy sexually abused" him, the suit claims.

Archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said, "This lawsuit is totally without merit," and scoffed at the idea of Egan being held liable for actions that allegedly occurred well before he became archbishop of New York in 2000.

Zwilling said most of the named priests are dead, some were not priests in the archdiocese, and one actually was never a priest. "None of them are in active ministry," he said.

"This seems clearly designed to do nothing but attract attention to Mr. Dowd and nothing for any of the individuals named in the suit" as plaintiffs, he said.

Asked if the claims are true, Zwilling said, "I'm not going to get into that."


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