Former Rochester bishop admits to knowing about local priests’ sexual misconduct allegations

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A transcript of the March deposition of former Bishop Matthew Clark of the Rochester Diocese was released Monday.

The Diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September of last year, less than one month after a flurry of lawsuits were filed against the Catholic organization related to the Child Victims Act. 

Clark, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, answered questions about what he knew about dozens of priests and if he knew about prior allegations against them.

He did admit to knowing about prior sexual misconduct allegations against some priests. He said that some accused priests returned to the ministry after either going to get rehabilitation or seeing a psychologist.

Here’s the full transcript of the three hour deposition:

The transcript shows he was also questioned about a secret archive in the diocese, who Clark says only seven people he knows of have access to it.

The diocese released the following statement on Monday regarding the deposition:

“The Diocese of Rochester appreciates Bishop Emeritus Clark’s cooperation in undergoing approximately three hours of questioning in his deposition of March 2020. While any individual would have difficulty providing accurate memory of events that occurred over a period of more than 33 years, Bishop Clark was further hindered by his struggle with early Alzheimer’s Disease. In a January 13, 2020 letter filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in early February, prior to the deposition, Bishop Clark’s physician had forewarned of potential issues by stating that Bishop Clark’s  “memory impairment limits his ability to assimilate and recall information presented in lengthy and complex questions and his ability to recall past events. His language impairment limits his ability to form clear, cogent and reliable responses to such questions.” As a result of these limitations, the deposition is in many instances imprecise and inaccurate and thus calls into question whether it is a credible addition to the bankruptcy case record. 

We continue to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, that they might find the hope and healing they deserve. We pray for Bishop Clark and for all those who suffer from this debilitating and tragic disease, and for the dedicated health professionals and caregivers working to assuage the difficult challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease.”

Mitchell Garabedian, the attorney representing 94 sexual abuse victims in the Diocese of Rochester also released a statement concerning the deposition:

“The testimony by Bishop Matthew Clark under oath in his deposition of March 3, 2020 indicates that Bishop Clark hid pedophilia from the public for decades just as clergy sexual abuse victims had suspected. By hiding pedophilia, Bishop Clark was part of the horrible problem and not part of the solution. Given his testimony under oath, Bishop Clark had an utter disregard for the safety and well- being of children.”

News 8 will provide updates as they become available.

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