Catholic bishop admits covering up sexual abuse allegations

covering up allegations of sexual abuse

The former bishop of the diocese of Albany, New York, has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests.

Howard J Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year. He said he didn’t take action in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.

Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse which they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.

During the four-day deposition, Hubbard named several priests who had been accused of sexual abuse and were referred to treatment. Some later returned to ministry without notification to the public.

Hubbard testified he didn’t report the allegations to law enforcement because he didn’t feel he was required by law to do so. Instead he kept the allegations secret out of concern for “scandal and the respect of the priesthood”.

One priest, David Bentley, admitted to Hubbard that he had engaged in the behaviour alleged. Bentley was eventually removed from the ministry by the diocese, despite Hubbard’s inaction.

The transcript “will be read with horror by the public”, said Cynthia LaFave, an attorney representing some plaintiffs. “The public will see the culpability of the Diocese in perpetuating a culture of sex abuse by priests that was allowed to continue for decades.”

Hubbard ran the diocese in New York’s state capital district from 1977 to 2014.

He has also been accused of sexual abuse, which he has denied.

He also testified that the diocese kept records documenting sexual abuse allegations in secret files. They were located in a locked room that only he and other top church officials could access.

In an emailed statement, a diocese spokesperson didn’t address Hubbard’s testimony directly but said the diocese’s priority is “the protection and assistance of victim/survivors and the discovery of the truth”.

The statement continued – it “has and continues to resolve pending claims of victims/survivors in mediations with the assistance of the court”.

In arguing for the release of the deposition transcript, attorneys for some of the alleged victims had argued that the risk of pre-trial prejudice was no longer valid after Hubbard published an opinion piece in the Albany Times-Union last year in which he defended the diocese’s handling of abuse complaints.


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