Three Longtime Pastors of Various Rochester Parishes Accused of Child Sexual Abuse for the First Time

Names of Six Clerical Perpetrators Identified in Lawsuits

(Rochester, NY) –Today, through lawsuits filed involving the Diocese of Rochester under the New York Child Victims Act (CVA), six new alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse are being identified publicly for the first time:

Msgr. Thomas F. Connors
Fr. L. John “Jack” Hedges
Charles O’Connell (choir teacher)

Fr. William J. Devereaux
Msgr. William J. Naughton
Br. William B. Reiser, C.S.C.

In the six lawsuits, abused allegedly occurred, or survivors were accessed through the following locations:

  • Blessed Sacrament
  • St. Charles Borromeo
  • St. Margaret Mary Church, Apalachin, New York
  • St. Columbia, Caledonia, New York
  • St. Anne’s Church
  • Cardinal Mooney High School

“We demand Bishop Matano release the names of all known offenders in the Diocese of Rochester,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm represents over 170 survivors in the Diocese of Rochester bankruptcy case. “Survivors and the community deserve to know the dangerous practices of the Diocese of Rochester. If they do not sound the alarm, we will.”

Msgr. Thomas F. Connors worked as a pastor of Blessed Sacrament in southeast Rochester from 1901-1963. Fr. L. John “Jack” Hedges worked as a pastor in various locations in the Diocese of Rochester for more than 60 years. Msgr. William J. Naughton worked as a pastor at Saint Anne’s for more than two decades.

The Diocese of Rochester filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2019 and set a bar date deadline of August 12, 2020. However, survivors who were sexually abused in the Diocese of Rochester can still come forward and file a lawsuit related to the abuse under the New York CVA. Survivors still have rights but must file a lawsuit by August 13, 2021.

“We are deeply grateful for the courage of all survivors who have come forward under the New York Child Victims Act,” said attorney Steve Boyd. “But there is still work to be done in the Diocese of Rochester. There is still a window of opportunity for survivors to take legal action, but that window is rapidly closing.”