National group blasts Syracuse diocese over child-molesting allegations against monsignor

National group blasts Syracuse diocese over child-molesting allegations against monsignor

By John O'Brien

October 2, 2014

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A national victims' advocacy organization today criticized the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse over its handling of a child-molesting accusation against a monsignor.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests questioned why it took more than a year after receiving the allegations for the diocese to permanently remove Monsignor Charles Eckermann from ministry.

"Why on earth does it take a more than a year - and consultation with church bureaucrats in Rome - to determine whether a child sex abuse report against a New York priest is 'credible'?" asked SNAP's director, David Clohessy, in an email to Syracuse.com.

"When officials move slowly and quietly in abuse cases, they break their promises to be 'open and transparent,' and they endanger other children," Clohessy said. "Child abusers rarely abuse once. There is no telling how many more children might have needlessly been victimized."

Kevin Braney, now 41 and a school district administrator in Colorado, first told the diocese in February 2013 that Eckermann had raped him 12 to 15 times in 1988 and 1989. Braney was an altar boy, 15 and 16 years old, at St. Ann's Church in Manlius when he was abused, he said. The diocese found the accusation credible in April of this year.

The Vatican confirmed that determination today.

Danielle Cummings, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said the diocese took action in 2013 against Eckermann after receiving Braney's allegations.

"The accused was immediately removed from ministry while the allegation was investigated in 2013," she said in response to SNAP's criticism. "The findings were given to the Diocesan Review Board which found the allegation to be credible."

The Vatican's affirmation means Eckermann "is permanently removed from priestly ministry and will no longer be able to function as a priest, wear clerical garb or present himself as a priest."

"The Diocese of Syracuse continues to invite any and all those who may have been harmed by a member of diocesan personnel to come forward," Cummings said. "We will pray for all those harmed by child sexual abuse and remain ever vigilant to keep our children safe."

Clohessy also criticized the diocesan officials for saying they could not determine whether Braney's accusation against another priest was credible. Braney said the Rev. James Quinn raped him once at St. Ann's rectory in 1989. The diocese was unable to make a determination because Quinn was not assigned to that church and because he's dead, Cummings said.

"That's ridiculous," Clohessy said. "Child molesting teachers don't abuse only at the school where they work. Child molesting Scout leaders don't abuse only kids in their troop. And child molesting clerics don't just assault youngsters in their own parishes."

Clohessy said SNAP, based in St. Louis, applauds Braney for having the courage to come forward.

"Children are safer now because he was brave and strong enough to speak up and expose wrongdoers," Clohessy said. "May his responsible actions prod others who were assaulted as kids to come forward, get help, protect kids and start healing."

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  • commented 2014-10-07 06:53:00 -0500
    at our school saint Teresa of avila under bishop hubbard we had the janitor gene hubbert raping kids at the school and kids would write things on the back of the wooden desks but the janitor every night sandpaper the writing off—kids also wrote things on the steam windows in class,which the teacher mr anasasio saw,also mr rench took me in front of health class and laid me across desk to show class cpr and mr rench whispered in my ear don’t worrie I wont tell gene(janitor)this janitor raped so many at the school,at his house and picked up kids in his volkswagon from colonie and bring them to paradox lakes and rape them -one other rape victims mr Erickson suppied the district attoneys office with pictures he found of other victims—at the same time the janitor was raping so many,father mecure was raping children in Albany ny and out of state,father david Bentley also raped many and was raping kids at parsons home for children—two brothers he was raping did receive secret settlements—father roche was working at parsons home for children alsoand was released by the diocese