Franciscan priest subject of lawsuit

The Record/December 7, 2004
By Robert Cristo

A Troy native filed a $5 million lawsuit Monday against the Albany Diocese, accusing a former local Franciscan priest and La Salle Institute school chaplain of sexually abusing him in the late '70s and early '80s.

Mark Lyman, 40, of Stillwater, filed the Massachusetts civil suit against Rev. Frank Genevive, who resigned from posts at St. Anthony's Church in Troy and the La Salle Institute in North Greenbush back in the 1980s for unknown reasons.

"I believe there are a number of others out there who Genevive abused who should come forward but are ashamed and blame themselves," said Lyman on why he wanted the lawsuit made public. "I want them to know their abuse was not their fault." Lyman claims that Genevive allegedly began molesting him when he was 13 in 1977, and he says the abuse continued right up until 1983 in New York and Massachusetts.

According Lyman, now a married father of four children, Genevive videotaped hours of sexual misdeeds, took provocative Polaroid snapshots of him as a child and frequently offered him alcohol.

"It's had a devastating impact on my life and some of the decisions I've made, which would have been a lot different had this not occurred," said Lyman. "I almost lost my marriage and family to problems I was having that I didn't understand until I sought therapy." Lyman, a state inspector with the office of Alcohol & Substance Abuse Service, also claims that Genevive (believed to be in his late 50s) told him not to be afraid because it was "normal" and "common" to have sex with a priest.

"After years of brainwashing, I began to believe what he was saying," said Lyman, who grew up at the Taylor Apartments in Troy, came from an underprivileged background and was the oldest of five siblings.

"We didn't have a father, and we didn't know where our next meal would come from. My mother sought charity help at St. Anthony's (where Lyman allegedly first met Genevive)."

Lyman's attorney John Aretakis insists that Genevive was arrested on charges of serving beer to students at the La Salle Institute in 1987 or '88, which he claims is the reason Genevive made a quick departure from this area. However, former Rensselaer County District Attorney and current state Supreme Court Judge James Canfield says he doesn't remember any case involving a priest getting arrested for serving alcohol to minors.

Officials from the Rensselaer County District Attorney's Office also say they have no record involving any arrest of Genevive. Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany spokesperson Ken Goldfarb says he has no recollection of any arrest but added that such circumstances would have been handled by Genevive's religious order (The Franciscan Province of Immaculate Conception, in New York City).

"No, the diocese is not aware of this alleged event. ... All we know is that he left," said Goldfarb. "The Franciscans make those decisions. ... They have control over their own priests."

Goldfarb added that Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard still must approve an outside priest's request to serve in his diocese, but after that, he is supervised by his outside religious order.

Less than a year ago, Lyman contacted the Albany Diocese to assist him with his complaint, but he says they said the matter was the Franciscans' to deal with. He also said that once the diocese found out he hired a lawyer, they dropped all communication with him. However, Aretakis contends that Canon Law confirms there's a duel responsibility over an ordered priest by both the diocese he is a guest in and his faction of the Catholic Church.

Aretakis also countered that if an ordered priest isn't the diocese's responsibility, then why would they place 18 religious ordered priests on the list with 53 Albany priests who have been credibly accused of sexual misconduct since the 1950s. "Legally, he (Hubbard) is responsible. ... The diocese is saying he's not our guy, but how in the world is he being supervised from 200 miles away?" asked Aretakis.

Leaders at The Franciscan Province of Immaculate Conception knew nothing about Genevive's past or present and asked that this reporter call back another time to get more information.

Aretakis also claims that Genevive is a lifelong friend of Hubbard's, but diocese officials say the bishop "hardly knew" Genevive. The suit was filed with the Suffolk County Supreme Court, because Lyman claims that some of the abuse occurred at the Christopher Columbus High School in Boston and other locations in Massachusetts.

According to Aretakis, the defendant is believed to be currently residing in Dutchess County at the Mt. Alvernia Friary in Wappingers Falls.

Genevive could not be contacted for comment.

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