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Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Rochester over allegations of sexual abuse

June 11, 2019 06:13 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — For the first time since the state passed the Child Victims Act, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester is being sued by a person who, according to the lawsuit, was abused by a priest as a child. 

The lawsuit was filed Monday, June 10. The lawsuit says the abuse happened between 1969 and 1971.

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Tuesday morning, News10NBC contacted Bishop Salvatore Matano's communication's director. In an email to News10NB, diocese spokesman Doug Mandelaro wrote, "We haven't been served.  This is the first complaint the Diocese has received under the NYS Child Victims Act.  We anticipate there will be others. It is under review."

News10NBC also contacted attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is spearheading legal actions against Catholic dioceses across the country. Garabedian's name is listed as "of counsel" on the lawsuit. 

In an email to News10NBC Tuesday morning at 10:40 a.m., Garabedian wrote, "By filing a civil complaint my client is empowering himself, other sexual abuse victims and making the world a safer place for children. It is time to seek transparency and obtain justice."

Who is getting sued? 

According to the lawsuit, the following entities are named as defendants: 

- The Diocese of Rochester
- The Catholic Youth Organization of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester
- Most Holy Redeemer Parish 
- St. Bridget's Church, a/k/a, St. Bridget's Church Rochester
- Roman Catholic Parish of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, a/k/a, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish
- Immaculate Conception/St. Bridget's Church

News10NBC's policy is to not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual abuse. Therefore we are not publishing the plaintiff's name. News10NBC is going to ask the plaintiff if the plaintiff wishes to talk to us. 

The lawsuit names two priests who are not listed as defendants. One is a Monsignor, a title granted to some priests. The other preist is Father Francis Vogt.

He was one of the priests named in a 2012 diocese report that detailed sexual abuse cases involving priests. 

News10NBC has learned that the Monsignor died in the 1970s. Father Vogt died in 2006. 

What is alleged?

The lawsuit says the plaintiff was sexually abused by the priest when the plaintiff was "approximately five to seven years old." 

The lawsuit says the Monsignor and Father Vogt rented a home to the plaintiff and his family. The lawsuit says Father Vogt "would take Plaintiff to the Catholic Charities Chestnut Street Catholic Youth Organization facility to swim."

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Father Vogt "used such encounters with the Plaintiff at the Catholic Charities Chestnut Street Catholic Youth Organization facility, when Plaintiff was approximately five to approximately seven years of age, to sexually assault, sexually abuse, and/or have sexual contact with the Plaintiff."

The lawsuit says "defendants Diocese of Rochester and St. Bridget's had the duty to reasonably manage, supervise, control and/or direct priests who served at St. Bridget's, and specifically, had a duty not to aid pedophiles such as (the priest) by assigning, maintaining, and/or appointing them to positions with access to minors." 

The lawsuit goes on to say "defendant Catholic Charities knew or should have known that (the priest) used their facilities to sexually abuse minor children, including the Plaintiff."

The lawsuit says the "plaintiff suffered personal, physical, and psychological injuries and damages as a result of (the priest's) actions, as well as other damages related thereto, as a result of his childhood sexual abuse."

The lawsuit says the Diocese of Rochester, St. Bridget's, and Catholic Charities actions were "willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, and outrageous in their disregard for the rights and safety of Plaintiff," that the defendants were negligent and that child abuse is a "foreseeable result of negligence."

The Child Victims Act was passed in New York State on Jan. 28, 2019. 

According to CNN.com "the Child Victims Act will allow child victims to seek prosecution against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases, a significant increase from the previous limit of age 23. For criminal cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 28. The bill also includes a one-year window during which victims of any age or time limit can come forward to prosecute."

Credits

Berkeley Brean

Copyright 2019 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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