In the Wake of Nassau County Supreme Court’s Decision that Lawsuits Against the Diocese of Rockville Centre Are Constitutional, Bishop Barres Resorts to Intimidation Tactics
(New York, NY) – On Friday, May 15, a parish within the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre, St. Hugh of Lincoln (Huntington Station), filed a notice of appeal challenging a Nassau County judge’s order allowing a survivor of childhood sexual abuse to proceed anonymously under the pseudonym “ARK3 Doe” for his claims pertaining to abuse committed by Fr. Alfred Soave. Bishop John Barres is the president of St. Hugh of Lincoln as well as all other parishes within his Diocese.
“This appeal is another intimidation tactic by the Bishop which has already been rejected by the courts. It’s legally unsound and morally shallow,” said attorney Jeff Anderson.
With this appeal, St. Hugh of Lincoln seeks to obtain a decision that would strip survivors of their right to anonymity under New York law and the claims that they seek to bring under the New York Child Victims Act. It follows closely on the heels of an order issued on May 13 by Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger denying the dozens of motions by the Diocese, with support of parishes including St. Hugh of Lincoln, to dismiss 44 child sexual abuse lawsuits on the grounds that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process. ARK3 Doe’s claim is included among those 44 lawsuits.
“Fr. Soave was one of the most notorious serial perpetrators of child sexual abuse on Long Island,” said attorney Pat Stoneking of Jeff Anderson & Associates, who represents six survivors of Soave’s abuse. “The responsibility for abuse committed by Soave falls on St. Hugh’s and the Diocese – and they are doing whatever they can to keep all of the survivors of his abuse from coming forward.”
Soave was identified by the media as “Priest T” in a Suffolk County Grand Jury Report released in 2003. “Given Soave’s patterns and protections, there are likely hundreds of survivors of his abuse out there,” Stoneking said. “A fact of which both St. Hugh’s and the Diocese are fully aware.” The Diocese of Rockville Centre has yet to issue an official list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
“This appeal is a bald-faced scare tactic to discourage survivors from coming forward,” said Anderson. “While the Diocese has agreed to allow survivors to come forward anonymously, the Bishop is using his parish as the bad cop and trying to intimidate survivors. The ability to proceed with these lawsuits anonymously is supported by New York law and we will fight hard to preserve that right on behalf of all survivors who choose to be protected by it.”