Lawsuits Name 14 Clerics Accused of Child Sex Abuse within the Diocese
(Ogdensburg, NY) – Today, attorneys from the law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave Wein & Frament, on behalf of numerous courageous survivors, filed 20 child sexual abuse complaints under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA) against the Diocese of Ogdensburg. Following the COVID-19 court closures, these cases were stuck in limbo as the limited CVA window for survivors of child sexual abuse continued to count down. The firms have now filed a total of 34 lawsuits against the Diocese.
“The courageous survivors who brought suit today are reclaiming the power that was stolen from them as children,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “We are honored to stand with these survivors in their excavation of truths that have been hidden for decades.”
Among the complaints:
- Seven (7) clerics have been publicly identified for the first time. They include:
- Monsignor F. Gordon Coseo, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1971 to 1976 at Notre Dame in Malone, NY
- Father Joseph W. Elliott, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1985 to 1988 at St. Michael in Parishville, NY and St. Mary in Potsdam, NY
- Father George A. Fontaine, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1971 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Schroon Lake, NY
- Father Frank M. Kearns, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1965 to 1967 at St. Joseph in Dannemora, NY
- Monsignor Joseph F. Luker, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1971 or 1972 at St. Peter in Lowville, NY
- Monsignor John F. Pendergast, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1987 to 1989 at St. Mary in Massena, NY
- Father Donald E. Seguin, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1961 at Sacred Heart in Crown Point, NY
- Four complaints allege abuse by Father Emile G. LaLonde in the 1960s and 1970s when he was assigned to St. John the Baptist in Madrid, NY and St. Augustine in North Bangor, NY. The firms have now filed a total of five cases implicating Father LaLonde.
- Four complaints name Father John J. Fallon, who was criminally convicted in connection with receiving child pornography in the mail in 1986. The firms have now filed a total of five cases naming Father Fallon.
- Two complaints allege abuse by Father Liam O’Doherty, who was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in 1979 for sexually abusing minors at St. Ann in Saint Regis Falls, NY. One of the complaints filed today alleges abuse dating back to 1966, shortly after Father O’Doherty was ordained a priest. The firms have now filed a total of four complaints implicating Father O’Doherty. His whereabouts are unknown.
“The courageous survivors we represent are mobilizing a movement of hope and of healing. Each of their voices presents an opportunity to demand reckoning, incentivize transparency, and to leverage a fundamental shift in the way our country approaches sexual predation. These survivors understand the power of their collective call to action,” said attorney Cynthia LaFave. “Given due process, their stories will ensure that the future protects children instead of abusers, the vulnerable instead of the oppressive. Our clients’ resolve is a feat of modern heroism. It is a privilege to witness and support them.”
Despite Governor Cuomo’s commendable executive order to extend the CVA deadline by five months and, more recently, New York legislators’ unanimous approval of a one-year extension it is best that survivors take action before the initial deadline of August 13, 2020 to take full advantage of their rights under the CVA.
“By bringing suit and sharing their truths, these survivors are making the Diocese a safer place for children,” said attorney Taylor Stippel. “As of right now, fewer than two months remain until the CVA deadline of August 13. For those out there who are considering taking action, now is the time to come forward.”