As more victims come forward, one of the people accusing local priests of sexual abuse is making a public demand for justice.
Carol DuPré says she was the victim of sexual misconduct by Father Stuart Hogan when she was a teenager.
Thursday morning, DuPré stood with Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing a number of victims, to speak with members of the media.
DuPré tells us the misconduct happened when she was 15 and 16 years old back in the 60s in the Town of Marion where Father Hogan, who is now deceased, served for three years between 1962 to 1965.
DuPré says her mother wrote a letter to the Diocese explaining what happened, but nothing was ever done. Over 50 years later, she reached back out to the Diocese to see if there was a record of her mother’s complaint and she says once again they said nothing.
She continues, “I said, ‘Can’t you tell me anything?’ All they said was we can only tell you he was described as ‘a nasty man.'”
DuPré says life has not been easy.
“It had a huge effect on my life even more than I thought because you think it’s a small incident,” she explains. “Even if it wasn’t that horrific, it really messed up my image of who God is on the earth because we were told that Catholic priests were like God in the flesh to us.”
In a statement on Thursday, officials said:
We welcome Mr. Garibedian’s participation in our process on behalf of Mrs. Carol DuPré.
The Diocese of Rochester encourages victims of sexual abuse of minors by clergy to report to civil authorities. To receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims should contact Mrs. Deborah Housel, victim assistance coordinator, at (585) 328-3210, ext. 1555, or toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555, or by e-mail to email@example.com.
According to her attorney, DuPré is not alone with her frustrations. Last week, Garabedian said he was representing 17 victims accusing eight priests of sexual misconduct across the Diocese of Rochester. Since that news conference last week, Garabedian says 16 new victims have come forward.
The attorney is calling on the church to release its “secret file” that keeps record of sexual abuse allegations against priests.
“It’s time for the church to come clean,” Garabedian demanded. “The evil must end. There is no excuse for it.”
Thursday, he continued to pressure the church to release their records.
“It’s time for the Catholic Church to release all documents. For the Diocese of Rochester to release all documents concerning sexual abuse,” Garabedian told reporters. “Those documents can have the names of the victims. We and they should indicate the names of the abusers, when the abuse took place, why the abuse took place and where it took place.”
In a statement last week, the Diocese said it had never received any complaints against Father Hogan. It added they had no records of complaints about three other accused priests (Fathers Gary Shaw, Charles McCarthy and Richard Orlando).
The Diocese said that a single complaint against Father Thomas Valenti — the only priest still active in the Diocese, serving a church in Owego — was investigated but “determined to be unsubstantiated.” The Diocese says there have been no other allegations against Valenti.
However, Thursday, News 8 learned that Father Valenti had requested to be relieved of his pastoral duties after the allegation resurfaced. The bishop granted that request after a meeting. The Diocese says:
Clarification: In a follow-up statement to News 8 Thursday evening, the Diocese said Father Valenti has not stepped down permanently. The Diocese says he is only taking personal leave to deal with the trauma of being accused. He will remain with the administration in his parish.
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.