NY - Iona College former-president named in child sex abuse suit

A man who says he was sexually abused by the former president of Iona College has filed a sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit in the New York courts.

The suit charges that the victim, known as John Doe, was sexually abused by Brother James Liguori in 1969 when the boy at a Cardinal Farley Military Academy in New York. Liguori is a member of and the school was run by the Irish Christian Brothers, a New Rochelle-based Catholic religious order.

Doe now lives in Orange County, California, and reported his abuse to church officials there in 2008. Catholic staffers, including Bishop Tod Brown, met with him and, in emails, a lawyer for the diocese said that she believed his allegations.
The Irish Christian Brothers, however, claimed that Doe's allegations were "without merit," so they took no action against Liguori. At the time of the victim’s report, Ligouri was the president of Iona College in New Rochelle. He retired in 2011.

"It's not often that church officials come out and say that they believe a victim," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation's largest support group for men and women sexually abused as children in religious and institutional settings. "But then to have the Irish Christian Brothers instantly claim the allegations were without merit and refuse to reach out to other potential victims is reckless and callous."

Last year, the Irish Christian Brothers declared bankruptcy in light of more than 50 child sex abuse lawsuits in the United States and more than 200 in Canada. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Mounting-sexual-abuse-claims-causes-US-Christian-Brothers-to-file-for-bankruptcy--121020724.html. The order has also been rocked by sex abuse scandals in Ireland.

In January, the New York Bankruptcy Court set a "bar date" of August 1, 2012, for all victims of Irish Brother predators to expose their abusers in court. After that, many victims of the Irish Christian Brothers will no longer have rights in the courts. Doe came forward and filed his sex abuse claim as part of this bankruptcy.

This is the first publicly known allegation against Liguori, but since church officials kept Doe's allegations quiet, it is unknown if other victims have come forward.

Liguori was the president of Iona College for 17 years. Before that, he was the school’s executive vice president, the principal of Rice High School in Harlem, headmaster of Iona Prep, associate superintendent of schools in the New York Archdiocese and the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Newark. http://www.cny.org/stories/Brother-Liguori-Retiring-as-Iona-President-Leaves-Record-of-Achievement,5526.

SNAP wants the Irish Christian Brothers to reach out to alums from every school where Liguori and other accused clerics taught and help other potential victims. before the August 1 deadline.

Liguori is not new to cover-up. In 2010, Sister Marie Thornton, a nun and the school’s vice president of finance for the school, embezzled more than $800,000 from Iona. Liguori and school officials did not call law enforcement to report the matter. Federal prosecutors were tipped off to the crime when the US Department of Education reviewed the school's tax forms, which did disclose the missing money. http://www.lohud.com/article/20111109/NEWS02/111090353/Iona-College-nun

"If a school is willing to cover-up this kind of theft," Casteix said, "it's not surprising that they did everything they could to sweep Doe's allegations under the rug. Hopefully, the courts and Doe will be able to expose the full cover-up of abuse by Irish Christian Brothers."

According to press reports, Liguori is on sabbatical.

The attorney for John Doe is Joseph George of Sacramento, (916) 641-7300, [email protected]

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