A priest sued the Newark Archdiocese and other Catholic agencies Tuesday, accusing them of doing nothing to stop clergy abuse and retaliating against him for helping victims.
The suit, filed by the Rev. Robert Hoatson in U.S. District Court, Manhattan, also alleges that three of the region's top Catholic clerics, including Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, are active homosexuals. The other two named in the suit are Cardinal Edward Egan of the New York Archdiocese and Bishop Howard Hubbard of the Albany Diocese.
Hoatson also said Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a former Newark archbishop who now runs the Archdiocese of Washington, is gay, although McCarrick is not named as a defendant.
The suit alleges that Hoatson has "personal knowledge" of the clerics' sexual behavior, but provides no evidence to back the claim. Hoatson's lawyer, John A. Aretakis, said the purpose wasn't to condemn homosexuality but to show that the bishops are morally compromised and can't discipline sexual offenders among their subordinates.
"Their private, consensual relationships with other men effectively restricts their ability to police their own," he said.
Aretakis, who has represented people who accuse Albany priests of abusing them, has been an outspoken critic of Hubbard. An outside investigation in 2004 cleared Hubbard of accusations that he had engaged in homosexual encounters.
"John Aretakis destroyed his own reputation long ago by making false allegations against Bishop Hubbard and others," said Ken Goldfarb, a spokesman for the bishop. "The allegations in this latest lawsuit filed by Mr. Aretakis, as they pertain to Bishop Hubbard, again, are absolutely false."
Goldfarb said the suit is the fourth in which Aretakis has alleged a conspiracy under federal anti-racketeering laws.
"Each of the three previous cases were thrown out by various state and federal courts," he said.
Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the Newark Archdiocese, said he hadn't seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it. However, he called the allegation that Myers is gay "totally baseless."
"It's just incomprehensible that Father Hoatson would stoop to fabricating this kind of a lie," Goodness said.
Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said the allegation against Egan is "outrageous, libelous and without one scintilla of truth."
Hoatson, who works for Catholic Charities in East Orange, and celebrates weekend Masses in Midland Park and Glen Rock, has been a persistent critic of the church hierarchy since the sexual abuse scandal surfaced in 2002.
The suit, which seeks $5 million in damages, accuses Myers of retaliating against Hoatson in 2003 by firing him from his job running a Catholic school in Newark.
The archdiocese said at the time that Hoatson requested a transfer from the school and then changed his mind