NY pedophile priest is confronted on Manhattan sidewalk
Mom of one of his victims and her attorneys have an unexpected run-in
New lawsuit says Catholic cleric molested two pre-school boys in 2005
He was already on suspension for sexually assaulting a different child in DC
Parents and co-workers warned church officials about predator at least 20 years earlier
Even now, a week before Pope visits, Catholic religious order is still ” reckless? lawyers say
The mother of a clergy sex abuse victim and her attorneys confronted a Catholic priest on a Manhattan sidewalk this morning.
The unexpected encounter happened as a new civil child sexual abuse lawsuit against the cleric was being disclosed at a street corner news conference.
Between 2002 and 2005, Fr. Aaron (“A.J.”) Cote sexually victimized two Springfield Massachusetts brothers who were then less than five years old, according to the suit. During part of that time, he was already on suspension for molesting a DC-area teenager in 2001 and 2002.
Cote lives at the national headquarters of the Dominicans, a large Catholic religious order, at 869 Lexington, next to a parochial school. He got out of a car and walked into the building during the mother?s news conference around 11 a.m. today.
“We kept calling out his name, and stood very close to him,” said Jeff Anderson, an attorney who represents the two young boys and the DC area victim. “He essentially ignored us and hurried past, running inside. But it?s clear to me that he recognized this grieving mother.”
She is Toni McMorrow of Germantown, Maryland, whose now-21 year old son Brandon was repeatedly molested by Cote and who sued the priest and his supervisors. That lawsuit was settled last year for $1.2 million.
During the news conference, Anderson and New York attorney Michael Dowd blasted the Dominicans for what they call “irresponsible and reckless” actions, because they kept moving Cote to new parishes after repeated reports of abuse and suspicious behavior.
The lawyers for the boys say that at least six reports of child molestation and/or suspicious behavior against Cote were given to his supervisors, dating back to the mid 1980s. Yet they kept moving the priest and putting him in new parishes without warning others.
In Rains? lawsuit against Cote, evidence showed that the priest?s superiors knew he was “a threat to kids” for more than 20 years, yet kept moving and keeping him in ministry until 2005. Cote was only suspended after Rains? sued.
In 2001-2002, Cote repeatedly abused the then-teenaged Rains at Mother Seton in Germantown, Maryland.
During a recent police investigation into Rains? abuse, church officials failed to notify police about reports of a 4th victim of Cote?s, who was assaulted by the priest in Ohio. They also refused, until ordered by a judge, to give Rains? attorneys the name of a teacher who knew about the fourth victim.
Thirty pages of previously-secret documents show that Catholic authorities were worried and warned about Cote?s excessive drinking and his disturbing interest in children even during his seminary days. They considered not ordaining him. Yet they kept transferring Cote to new parishes until Rains sued in 2005.
Cote has also worked in:
- Peru (where records show he repeatedly and inappropriately let kids be and stay in priests? living quarters)
- Ohio (where he was also accused of molesting a boy in the Columbus diocese) and (most recently)
- Rhode Island (where he was transferred to a Providence parish after Rains reported his abuse)
The case is clear proof, attorneys say, of how church officials in general (and religious orders in particular) ignore the US bishops weak and vague but highly-touted child sex abuse policies adopted six years ago
The Massachusetts victims (and Rains) are represented by:
St. Paul MN attorney Jeff Anderson (651 227 9990, 612 817 8665 cell) and;
New York attorney Michael Dowd (212 751 1640)