Lawsuits Name More than 20 Clerics Accused of Child Sexual Abuse within the Diocese, 6 for the First Time
(Long Island, NY) – Today, attorneys from the law firm of Jeff Anderson & Associates, on behalf of numerous courageous survivors, filed 30 lawsuits under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA) for childhood sexual abuse within the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The firm has now filed a total of 47 lawsuits against the Diocese.
“We stand with the courageous survivors who have chosen to file suit today,” said attorney Trusha Goffe. “These survivors join hundreds of others across New York who, after decades of suffering in silence, have access to the Courts for a limited time under the Child Victims Act.”
Among the complaints:
- 6 clerics have been publicly identified for the first time. They include:
- Father Daniel Sheridan, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1983 to 1984 at St. Barnabus Apostle in Bellmore, NY
- Father Hugh Reilly, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1969 at Our Lady of Victory in Floral Park, NY
- Father Robert Giuntini, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1977 at St. Rosalie’s in Hampton Bay, NY
- Father Valentine Stortz, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1963 to 1965 at St. Martin of Tours in Bethpage, NY
- Brother William Campbell, S.M., accused of sexually abusing a former student in the 1980s at Chaminade High School in Mineola, NY
- Brother Rafael Edes, F.S.C., accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1965 to 1967 at LaSalle Military Academy in Oakdale, NY
- Four complaints allege abuse by notorious perpetrator Father Albert Soave at St. Hugh of Lincoln in Huntington Station, where Father Soave was assigned for over a decade in the 1970s and 1980s. Father Soave was also implicated in a lawsuit previously filed by the firm and was previously identified by the media as “Priest T” in the 2003 Suffolk County Grand Jury Report (“GJ Report”).
- Two complaints allege abuse by Father Andrew Millar (publicly identified as “Priest V” in the GJ Report) at St. Raymond’s in East Rockaway in the 1980s.
- Two complaints involve Father James Bergin (publicly identified as “Priest E” in the GJ Report), for his sexual abuse of minors a decade apart. One complaint alleges sexual abuse from approximately 1969 to 1970 at St. Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point, NY and the other alleges sexual abuse from approximately 1982 to 1984 at St. John the Evangelist in Riverhead, NY.
- Two complaints implicate Father Robert Huneke (publicly identified as “Priest M” in the GJ Report) for sexual abuse at St. Anthony’s High School in Smithtown, St. Patrick’s in Smithtown and St. Dominic’s in Oyster Bay, NY.
- One complaint names Father Charles Ribaudo (publicly identified as “Priest O” in the GJ Report), for his sexual abuse of a minor at Holy Trinity High School from approximately 1979 to 1980.
- One complaint names Father Angelo Ditta (publicly identified as “Priest H” in the GJ Report) for abuse at St. Joseph’s in Ronkonkoma in the 1990s.
- One complaint alleges abuse by Father Gerard Chasse (publicly identified as “Priest I” in the GJ Report) at St. Patrick in Bay Shore, NY in the 1970s.
- Three complaints allege sexual abuse by Father Peter Charland, who has been implicated in a lawsuit previously filed by the firm.
- One complaint names Father John McGeever, for his sexual abuse of a minor at St. Patrick’s in Huntington, NY.
- One complaint names Father John Mahoney, O.F.M. Cap., who has been implicated in another lawsuit previously filed by the firm.
“Many of these courageous survivors haven chosen to preserve their anonymity, which is their right under New York law,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “And it is their right under the Child Victims Act to take this opportunity to share their truth and tear back the curtain of secrecy that concealed the identities and crimes of their perpetrators for so many years.”
The Suffolk Grand Jury Report
The Diocese of Rockville Centre is the only Catholic Diocese in New York to not release an official list of clerics credibly accused of sexual abuse.
On February 10, 2003, the Suffolk County Grand Jury released a report following an investigation into the Diocese. The Grand Jury examined personnel records of the diocese’s priests, including secret archive files of 43 priests. The Grand Jury concluded that “officials in the Diocese failed in their responsibility to protect children” and “ignored complaints about the sexually abusive behavior of priests.”
“The Suffolk County Grand Jury issued its report about the Diocese over 17 years ago. It is still absolutely horrifying to read,” said attorney Pat Stoneking. “The report describes abuse and rape of children spanning decades. Even worse, these terrible acts were committed by the most trusted figures in a Catholic child’s life, only to be covered up by the Diocese so more children would suffer. The Grand Jury repeatedly describes how the Diocese was consistently more concerned about its reputation than it was ever concerned about the children suffering at the hands of all of these priests. It is time for that to change.”
Battleground for Survivor Rights in New York State
In August of 2019, the New York CVA opened one year look-back window allowing survivors to bring claims for child sex abuse. While hundreds of claims against the Catholic Dioceses have been brought across New York State, the bulk of New York Bishops’ efforts to defeat the law has been taking place on Long Island.
- On May 13, Nassau County Court Supreme Court denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act.
- On May 15, a parish of the Rockville Centre Diocese filed a notice of appeal challenging Judge Jaeger’s order allowing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to proceed under the pseudonym “ARK3 Doe”. “This appeal is a bald-faced scare tactic to discourage survivors from coming forward,” said Anderson.
- On May 29, the Diocese of Rockville Centre joined several parishes in filing notices of appeal challenging the Nassau County Supreme Court decision that allowed childhood sexual abuse cases filed under the Child Victims Act to proceed.
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre is opting for a slash and burn litigation approach against the survivors of childhood sexual abuse,” said Anderson. “Bishop Barres often states publicly that the Diocese is trying to atone for its tremendous sins in its long history of failing to protect children, but in the courtroom, the Diocese’s representatives are filing unfounded motions, baseless appeals, and resorting to intimidation tactics to keep survivors from coming forward.”