Sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Syracuse priest

News 10 Now/January 22, 2004

A Manhattan-based lawyer has filed a lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese for what he claims is another sexual abuse case by a local priest.

John Aretakis said the suit is against Father Thomas Keating of the Syracuse Diocese.

The lawsuit claims Keating abused three sisters between the years of 1982 and 1985.

Amy, Karen and Kristen Hanson grew up attending Saint Mary's Church in Cortland.

"It grieves me to relive this deeply disturbing fact of our adolescence and we are here in this capacity to provide you with names and faces, to share publicly the very real events that happened to us," said Karen Hanson.

Aretakis said they're not only suing Keating, but also the Syracuse Diocese.

"The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young Persons, as Bishop Moynihan likes to talk about, should more aptly be entitled, 'the charter for protection of pedophile priests and the Bishop who protects them,'" said Aretakis.

Keating is currently listed as Pastor of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Maine, New York, located in the Endicott area.

The sisters said the fact that Keating is still in the service of the church is frightening.

"I'm beyond a point where I think it's important to take these people out of circulation. To stop dumping them on parishes in multiples and leaving the parishes to squander away and their children to be unsafe," said Amy Hanson.

According to Aretakis, Bishop Moynihan should act on this new accusation quickly and personally.

The Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese has no plans to change the status of Keating at this time.

The Diocese said it was caught by surprise by the lawsuit and had not heard from the women involved prior to a news conference today.

"I don't think it questions credibility. I think what it does, sometimes, it affects the way in which we can respond because often times we don't get the details of the allegation. We're finding that in the first lawsuit that was presented against Father Keating. If you aren't provided with a bill of particulars or you aren't provided with specific details or the opportunity to speak with the individual, one on one, or be presented to the Diocesan Review Board, the process is going to take much longer, only because there are so many barriers to finding the truth. The person who comes forward through a lawsuit has that right, and if that's how they're most comfortable and they feel they've been harmed, then, we're perfectly open to that. All we want to do is get the same information so we can determine, to the best of our ability, whether or not that allegation is credible," said Syracuse Diocese spokesperson Danielle Cummings.

Just two weeks ago, the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese was praised for its efforts to respond to allegations of sexual abuse by clergy within its borders.

It has a special board to review allegations and has publicly urged victims to come forward to enable the review board to investigate their stories.

Dealing with older allegations has been a major hurdle as the Church tries to get the ongoing scandal under control.

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