Eight priests of Diocese of Rochester accused of sexually abusing children
UPDATE (6/14): 13WHAM News has learned one of the eight priests accused of sexually abusing young children has asked to be relieved of his duties.
Father Thomas Valenti, according to the Diocese of Rochester, asked to be relieved, "in order to address this matter." The Diocese says Bishop Salvatore Matano approved this request.
The Diocese released the following statement Thursday:
Bishop Matano made a pastoral visit to the parishes Father Valenti serves last Sunday. During his homily, he told parishioners a previous allegation against Father Valenti, dating back many years, had resurfaced, an allegation that was investigated in 2003 according to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and determined to be unsubstantiated by an independent Review Board of those competent in law, child protection, law enforcement and psychology. No further complaints of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Valenti have ever been received.
He added that the revival of this past allegation is painful for everyone concerned and traumatic for anyone involved, certainly including these faith communities and Father Valenti.
Because of these circumstances, Father Valenti, out of concern for the parishioners and that they are not adversely affected, has asked to be relieved of his pastoral duties at this time in order to address this matter. Bishop Matano granted his request.
Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - Eight priests who were ordained or assigned in the Diocese of Rochester over the last eight decades are being accused of sexually abusing young children while they were in those roles.
Road to Recovery, a non-profit charity that helps victims of sexual abuse and their families, listed the clergy members who are accused of decades of abuse. Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney who represents several survivors of abuse in Rochester, stood alongside the president of Road to Recovery, Robert Hoatson at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Garabedian was at the center of the largest investigation into the cover-up of abuse among priests in Boston and is now demanding transparency from the Diocese of Rochester.
"In Canon Law, there’s actually something called a secret file. And that’s where the evidence is," said Garabedian.
Three of the alleged abusers have been named previously - Eugene Emo, David Simon, and Francis Vogt.
Emo was arrested in 1996 and was subsequently dismissed from the clerical state in the church due to behavior with young boys and sent to a different parish. He apologized at his sentencing in 1997 for damage he caused victims.
Simon has been assigned "to a life of prayer and penance," with no additional public ministry possible. Vogt has died, according to the Diocese.
However, five of the priests being accused Tuesday are being named publicly for the first time as alleged abusers. Stuart Hogan, Charles McCarthy, Gary Shaw, Richard Orlando, and Thomas Valenti are each accused by multiple survivors of abuse.
According to the press release, the alleged abuse happened "in a number of parishes and institutions in the Diocese of Rochester and other places."
In June 2017, Valenti was re-appointed as a parochial administrator at the Blessed Trinity & St. Patrick, Parish in Owego. In a statement released by the Rochester Diocese Wednesday, "The allegation against Father Thomas Valenti was investigated, reviewed and determined to be unsubstantiated. No futher complaints of sexual abuse of a minor against Father Valenti have ever been received."
The statement went on to say it has, "never received any complaints of clergy sexual abuse of a minor against Fathers G. Stuart Hogan, Charles McCarthy and Richard Orlando, each of whom retired as a priest and are now deceased." No complaints were received about Gary Shaw, according to the Diocese. Shaw resigned from ministry in 1977 and was dispensed from the clerical state in 1978.
Members of the Diocese of Rochester have been in contact with Garabedian and his law firm over the last few days leading up to the news conference Tuesday. A spokesperson said they invited the attorneys to take part "in a process of investigation and resolution. We have had little or no response."
Garabedian says he plans to sit down with his clients and the diocese. No date has been set.
The Diocese of Rochester has removed 23 priests from ministry and posted all of their names to the Diocesan website. Emo, Simon, and Vogt are among them.
An attorney, retired State Supreme Court Justice Robert Lunn, has been retained by the Diocese of Rochester to help resolve any child sex abuse claims. The Diocese also directed anyone who wants to learn more about its efforts to make its parishes and churches safer to read about those efforts here.
“I again wish to re-state to the victims and all the faithful my deep sorrow, regret and empathy for those who have suffered so grievously the sin of sexual abuse. I continue to offer fervent prayers for those who have been hurt and betrayed, and I ask all the faithful to join with me in these prayers,” said The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, Bishop of Rochester.