Priests cleared of sex abuse allegations

WNYT News 13, New York/November 22, 2011

Albany -- Advocates and alleged victims of sex abuse by clergy spoke out after five local priests are cleared of wrongdoing. The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese says its sexual misconduct review board found no reasonable grounds to substantiate the claims.

It was Michael DeSantis, 34, who came forward and said he molested by the five priests for years beginning when he was just nine years old in the 1980's.

"I have 100 percent clarity that they are the five men. I have no second thoughts, no second doubt," DeSantis told Newschannel 13 back in August.

DeSantis, of Colonie, named Father Alan Jupin, Father Donald Ophals, Father John Bertolucci, Father Louis Douglas and Father Carl Urban as the abusers. On Tuesday, the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese said there are no reasonable grounds to substantiate the allegations.

"We still stand behind the victims and we believe they were abused," said Mark Lyman who heads the local chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

Lyman questions how the Diocese came to the conclusion to clear the five priests.

"As a victim, as an advocate, as a catholic, I question how an organization can clear its own employees,"

The Diocese said everything was done by the book. The seven month investigation was conducted by retired law enforcement.

"Number two, as a result of his previous investigations, we've already removed several priests," said Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Ken Goldfarb. "We also took an additional step where we brought in judge [Albert M.] Rosenblatt, highly respected former Court of Appeals judge."

Lyman believes cases of sexual abuse by priests should be handled by active duty investigators. But he says some victims will never get their day in court because of the statute of limitations in New York State.

"We've always advocated to lift those statute of limitations so that victims, regardless of when they were abused, can bring this forward into a civil court and expose their abusers," Lyman said.

Fathers, Jupin, Ophals and Urban will return to active retired status and will be able to fill in on Sundays mass. Bertolucci was permanently removed from ministry based on unrelated sex abuse allegations. Father Douglas passed away in May.

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