Montgomery County - A Catholic priest acting as a Montgomery County family's spiritual adviser has been arrested, accused of sexually abusing the family's four children, state police said Wednesday.
John W. Broderick, 47, of Nicholville, St. Lawrence County, is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with the children, ages 5 to 11, over several months last year.
State police in Fonda began investigating after receiving a complaint from a Montgomery County family. The parent told police Broderick befriended the family and became their spiritual adviser.
He left the county in May 2007, ending up in Massena, at the Holy Name of Jesus Academy. He was arrested by state police investigators there.
State police identified him with the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse; however, the school he was arrested at appears to be run by a sect not officially recognized by the Catholic Church.
Montgomery County District Attorney Jed Conboy said he did not believe Broderick was in the county acting on behalf of any diocese. Conboy was unsure how long Broderick was in the county.
State police spokeswoman Maureen Tuffey said the extent of the allegations make investigators fear Broderick had more victims.
"If somebody is 47 years old and doing this, it's usually not their first time," Tuffey said. "Generally speaking, when you see these cases, you usually encounter other victims."
She cited that as the main reason they publicized the case Wednesday. Anyone with information was asked to call the state police at 853-4708.
State police described Broderick as a pastor who was not assigned to a particular church.
Broderick faces three counts of first-degree sexual abuse, felonies, one count of second-degree sexual abuse and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors.
He was arraigned in Town of Palatine Court and ordered held on $50,000 bail.
Broderick was suspended earlier this year by the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, police said.
However, the school where he was arrested is run by the Dominican Sisters of Idaho, a group not officially recognized by the Catholic Church, according to an article in the Watertown Daily Times.
A spokesperson for the Syracuse Catholic diocese did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Neither Montgomery County nor Massena are part of that diocese.
Montgomery County falls under the Albany diocese. Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for Albany, confirmed Broderick is not a priest for Albany and he was never assigned to any diocese parish. The Albany diocese extends west to include Herkimer County.
Further, any priest from another diocese would have to ask permission from the local bishop to practice, Goldfarb said. "We have no knowledge of him ever seeking permission."
Massena is under the Ogdensburg diocese. An official there said the Holy Name of Jesus school was under another group's control. Calls to the school's listed number were not returned Wednesday.
The Holy Name of Jesus Academy opened in September, serving about 50 girls in preschool to seventh grades, according to a newsletter from a group related to the Dominican Sisters of Idaho.
The newsletter also includes several photographs. In one photo, a man identified as "independent New York state priest, Fr. John Broderick" is described as helping bless the school complex.
Broderick exonerated of all charges
News 10 Now, New York/April 9, 2009
By Dayana Perez
Fonda, New York - It was a day filled with mixed emotions at the Montgomery County courthouse as the fate of Catholic Priest John Broderick was revealed.
Broderick, who faced one misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of a child, was fully exonerated by the court.
"I feel really grateful for the supporters and all of those who have been praying. Of course for the priesthood itself, which is why I have taken this fight and tried to fight this, so I'm very happy," Broderick said.
Family members of the boys left silently from the courtroom after Broderick was let off the charge. They did not want to comment, but their spokesman, John Aretakis, did give in his two cents.
"We were led to believe for the past month or two that Broderick will be leaving court today in handcuffs and go on to jail. So obviously, for this development to happen, not only surprising, but devastating, to the family," Aretakis said.
"The court was courageous. Did the right thing. Followed the law and properly dismissed a count that should have never been submitted to the jury," said defense attorney Bruce Barket.
Just months ago Broderick, a former Syracuse priest, was being tried for allegedly molesting four boys under the age of 12 who live in the Town of Palatine. He was accused of inappropriately touching them while he made monthly visits to the area and was acting as their mother's spiritual advisor.
On February 18th, a jury found him not guilty and acquitted him of two felony counts of child abuse.
"I think it's a victory for the truth and I hope for the family, that they can come to some peace," said Broderick.
While on trial, Broderick was suspended from the Syracuse Diocese. Diocesan officials will have to decide now whether Broderick will continue practicing or get permanently removed from the priesthood.