Court Orders Keep Charge Quiet
re-posted on google group site March 23, 2002!topic/alt.religion.christian.roman-catholic/AZMCq-fnIdU

He was dubbed the Pied Piper of the Lower East Side, a well-known, popular priest who taught catechism classes to 50 children at Most Holy Redeemer Church, ran a drug-prevention program for the New York Archdiocese and organized immigrants to start their own credit union.

Yet, for years, allegations that the Rev. Jack Kennington molested children festered in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn, where a gag order prevented anyone from publicizing the claims.

In November, the case against Kennington, the Archdiocese of New York and the Redemptorist Fathers was quietly settled, but the gag order remains in place. A spokesman for the archdiocese, Joseph Zwilling, cited the confidentiality agreement yesterday, saying he could not comment.

Such orders are common in sexual abuse cases involving the church, according to David Clohessy of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who asserts that they serve a church agenda.

"The church lawyers and the bishops know that these folks never just molest just one kid," said Clohessy, director of the Chicago-based organization. "So they know if they can keep the first two or three or 10 victims quiet, then, they may avoid ... massive multimillion-dollar settlements and a major headache."

The provincial superior for the Redemptorist Fathers, the Rev. Kevin Moley, did not return a call seeking comment.

Kennington, now a scholar on the Shroud of Turin who lives at an Ulster County retreat house, did not return a call from Newsday. In a deposition, he denied many allegations against him but admitted playing strip poker to nakedness with Brendan Lyons and his sister at their Manhattan apartment on a number of occasions, while he was baby-sitting for their mother, Christine Lyons.

Lyons and her late husband, John, met Kennington during one of several dozen marriage encounters Kennington ran in Rockville Centre for Catholic couples. Later, the Lyons visited Kennington in Brazil, where he was a seminarian, religious supervisor and pastor for a rural parish.

When Kennington returned to New York in 1982 and assigned to the Most Holy Redeemer Church on East Third Street, Kennington and Christine Lyons renewed their friendship.

At the same time, Kennington was becoming known as an activist priest on Manhattan's Lower East Side, and he was quoted prominently by several newspapers.

In addition to performing Mass for the Lyons family, hearing confessions and celebrating Brendan's First Communion, Kennington would accompany the family to East End vacation homes and to visits with Christine's parents in Amelia Island, Fla., and baby-sit for Brendan and his sister, Bridget, according to the suit.

Christine Lyons, a journalist who worked for several publications, even left her children with Kennington when she left town on weeklong assignments, the suit said.

In a deposition filed in court, Brendan Lyons, now 25, said he was sexually abused by Kennington from 1984 to 1987, when he was between 8 and 11. His first recollection of the encounters occurred at a summer house the family rented in the Hamptons.

Brendan Lyons said that Kennington was masturbating in the bathroom and asked him and his sister to watch. "He asked my sister to touch him," Lyons said. On at least eight other occasions, at the family's East 14th Street apartment, Kennington had the children play strip poker with him, according to the suit.

"He touched my penis," Lyons said. Once, this game went on when a friend was over for a play date, Lyons said.

At times, Kennington would fondle him in front of his sister, then fondle his sister while he watched. Another time when they were in the Hamptons, Lyons said, Kennington brought a pornographic magazine to the beach at Fresh Pond, then masturbated in the car in his presence.

When the family invited Kennington to visit Lyons' parents at Amelia Island, the priest took him to play strip poker in a secluded area of the beach, Lyons said.

There, they wrote stories of "sexual adventure," Lyons recalled.

"It was really absurd, because it was being written by a 10-year-old boy talking about sexual incidents that would happen to an adult," Lyons testified. "I think we would read them to each other."

Kennington also heard Lyons' confession.

When he asked whether Lyons had any sins to confess, Lyons said, he would giggle and say, "You know." "He then instructed me to say a number of Our Fathers and Hail Marys and gave me absolution for the sexual conduct in which we had engaged."

In the suit, Christine Lyons said she did not learn of the sexual abuse until 1989, five years after it started, when her daughter refused to invite the family priest to her high school graduation party.




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