Second Catholic Priest at Staten Island Parish Accused of Abuse
A lawsuit filed on March 12, 2021, accuses a Catholic priest at Our Lady of the Sea in Staten Island of sexual abuse. In 2019, the pastor of the same parish was sued for sexual abuse. As far as SNAP can tell, the Archdiocese of New York has not informed parishioners about these allegations and both clergymen remain in active ministry.
On Friday, Fr. Basil Akut was accused in court papers of grooming and sexually abusing a recently-divorced and depressed woman who sought counseling from him. The lawsuit accuses Fr. Akut of using his position as a priest at Our Lady Star of the Sea to “isolate, manipulate, and groom her for sexual abuse.”
SNAP has been told that Fr. Akut was recruited to Our Lady Star of the Sea by Father Thomas Devery, who himself has been accused sexually abusing a minor. This apparently-concealed record of abuse allegations is of particular concern owing to the fact that Fr. Devery is the pastor of one of the largest Catholic elementary schools in Staten Island.
It seems to us that in the interest of openness and transparency Archdiocesan officials, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, owe it to the faithful at Our Lady Star of Sea to inform them of such allegations and urge anyone with information to come forward and report to law enforcement. We know that false allegations of sexual abuse are extremely rare and that perpetrators seldom have just one victim.
It also seems to us to be irresponsible for the Archdiocese of New York to allow both clerics to remain in ministry despite the allegations. We urge Cardinal Dolan to remedy this disturbing situation immediately.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)