Catholic Diocese named in lawsuit

News 10 Now, New York/March 28, 2009

Syracuse, New York - John Aretakis has been here before. He's waged an ongoing battle with the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese over what it did or did not do in the case of Father John Broderick, a priest arrested last year for allegedly abusing four young boys in the same family. The priest has since been convicted on one misdemeanor count in the case.

A new civil case has been filed to free up diocesan records on Broderick.

"They knew about him. They allowed him to roam free. They moved him from parish to parish, or, in this case, they allowed him to walk around like a gypsy priest on his own. To travel down to Albany, to North Carolina, up to Massena and then down to Pennsylvania. And he really was, most times, unsupervised and not supervised at all," said Aretakis.

What may be most surprising about the case is the fact that much of it unfolded long after the Catholic church had been rocked by a scandal involving abuse by members of the clergy. And long after the church said it was taking steps to avoid such scandal in the future.

More than five years ago, the Syracuse Diocese unveiled its own plan for action.

"We are keeping a good eye on all of those who have been guilty, in one way or another, of sexual abuse. We're monitoring them," Bishop James Moynihan said in January 2004.

And just a year ago, on a visit to the United States, the Pope said the scandal was a low point for the church.

"No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse," said Pope Benedict XVI.

Aretakis says the children have begun to come to terms with what happened.

"I think they're better, but they're not well, yet," Aretakis said.

But he says the most important step in the process is one that only the church can take.

"It's important that the Syracuse Diocese strip this man of his ministry, once and for all, permanently. And he's indicated that he's going to take that appeal to the Vatican. But no one wants to see this guy parading around anywhere in the country as a priest anymore," said Aretakis.

The diocese says it continues to cooperate with authorities.

Sentencing for Father Broderick on his misdemeanor conviction is expected in April.

Broderick exonerated of all charges

News 10 Now, New York/April 9, 2009

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.

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