Fr. Donald Bolton – Diocese of Albany

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2019 | Catholic Church, Sex

Father Donald Bolton

Diocese of Albany

Ordained: 1952

Died: 2006

Assigned as follows:

  • 1952-1954: Mt. St. Alphonsus (Esopus, NY)
  • 1954-1959: Bela Vista (Mato Grosso, Brazil)
  • 1959-1962: Campo Grande (Mato Grosso, Brazil)
  • 1962-1967: Bela Vista (Mato Grosso, Brazil)
  • 1967-1969: Monte Alegre (Parana, Brazil)
  • 1969-1970: Rocio (Parana, Brazil)
  • 1970-1974: Notre Dame Retreat House (Canandaigua, NY)
  • 1974-1984: St. Gregory Thaumaturgus (North East, PA)
  • 1984-1987: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Basilica (Brooklyn, NY)
  • 1987-1990: Holy Family Retreat House (Hampton, VA)
  • 1990-2003: St. Alphonsus Villa (Redemptorist Fathers and Brothers, (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
  • 2003-2006: St. John Neumann Residence (Sarasota Springs, FL)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Donald Bolton:

Fr. Donald Bolton was ordained a priest in 1952. He was assigned within the Diocese of Albany between 2003-2006. According to media reports, in 1986, the parents of a seven-year-old girl came forward to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office with a complaint that Donald Bolton molested their daughter. They came forward after they learned that Bolton was working with children in New York. They had been promised by The Redemptorists, that he would never again be in a position to harm children. He was charged with indecent assault and corruption of minors.

In 1987, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years’ probation, and agreed to enter a treatment program. Arrest records also noted that several other girls were molested as well, but the statute of limitations had already expired, prohibiting further prosecution.

One of Bolton’s victims later filed a lawsuit and received a settlement of $100,000. Her abuse began in 1976 when she was seven years old and continued until 1980 when she was eleven. The abuse started when Bolton came to her house to console her family over the death of a grandparent. The victim reported that Bolton held her on his lap and rubbed her back, legs, bottom, and rear. In 1977, when she was eight and practicing to make her First Holy Communion at St. Gregory, Bolton entered her side of the confession booth, slid his hands up her dress, and pulled her panties down. He fondled her and rubbed himself against her. He told her not to tell anyone because no one would believe a child’s word against his word. She recalled this type of abuse occurred for nine months, at least every other week.

Beginning in 1977 and continuing into 1978, Bolton took the victim and her five friends to the Peak ‘N Peak ski resort in New York on several occasions. She explained that while Bolton drove, he assaulted her in the front seat. She described how Bolton would rub her genitals and poke her with his finger as though he was trying to put a hole in her pants. She recalled this as a physically painful experience. She recalled that it happened to her at least twice when she was eight or nine years old.

In 1978 and 1979, the victim attended classes at St. Gregory. She reported that every other week, Bolton would have the nuns pull her out of class and send her to his bedroom in the rectory to help him with assignments. He would take off her pants and put her on his lap in a position that her back was to him. Bolton would rub himself back and forth on her buttocks and vagina while he moaned. He told her that he was preparing her for womanhood, and often had his hand and fingers inside of her.

In 1980, when the victim was eleven, her parents rented a cottage in a NY resort town and invited Bolton along for the family vacation. One day Bolton found her alone in her bedroom, closed the door, pulled off her bathing suit, and turned her around. He began to sexually assault her. She recalled that the assault only stopped when he thought he was going to be discovered by a passerby. Bolton instructed her to be quiet about the abuse because she was a lying child and nobody would believe a lying child over a man of God’s word.

In 1993, the victim began to disclose the abuse and sought counseling. Father Bolton’s Redemptorists Order paid $50,000.00 and the Diocese of Erie’s insurance carrier paid the balance of her counseling fees. She reported that she never witnessed Father Bolton assault any of her friends, but believes they were also abused in the same way she was.

According to Diocesan records, the complainant in Bolton’s 1987 conviction was one of her friends. Other victims of Bolton came forward years later and also proved to be childhood friends of the girl. One victim was approximately the same age, between seven and eleven years old, when Bolton preyed upon her. She was offered assistance with counseling. In another file, the mother of five children alleged that Bolton may have sexually assaulted four of them. The family was also offered counseling assistance.

In 2001, another victim reported that Bolton sexually assaulted him. At the time, he was a fourth-grade boy who was abused from 1976-1977. The victim explained that Bolton “wanted me to do things to him”. He implied that these things that Bolton suggested were sexual and that Bolton asked this victim to touch him. The victim also said one day when he opened Bolton’s door without knocking, he saw Bolton with a young girl whose tights were down around her ankles. She was crying and Bolton yelled at him, “What the hell are you doing here?”

Ultimately, the Diocese of Erie returned Bolton to the Redemptorists. He remained in ministry until his death in October 2006.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Albany in New York.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in New York State, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Diocese of Albany now have legal options, but filing deadlines will apply so do not delay in reaching out to us.  Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New York and nationwide. We can help.

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