Father Thomas Neary, Jr.
Diocese of Syracuse
Assigned as follows:
- 1955 – 1962 St. John the Evangelist (New Hartford, NY)
- 1963 – 1964 St. Michael (Onondaga Hill, NY)
- 1965 – 1970 St. Mary of the Lake (Skaneateles, NY)
- 1971 – 1972 Our Lady of the Rosary (Hannibal, NY)
- 1973 – 1980 St. Francis (Durhamville, NY)
- 1980 – 1981 Ecclesiastical Attorney
- 1981 – 1984 St. Paul (Norwich, NY)
- 1985 – 1986 St. Patrick (Jordan, NY)
- 1987 – 1997 Most Holy Rosary (Syracuse, NY)
Summary of Abuse Allegations Against Father Thomas Neary, Jr.:
According to media reports, in May 2003, a man accused Father Thomas Neary, Jr. of raping him more than 100 times from 1961 to 1963 beginning at age 10. Father Neary was an assistant pastor at St. Michael Church in Onondaga Hill.
The accusation was made public at a state Senate hearing in Albany calling on state legislators to extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting clergy sex abuse crimes. Since he publicly testified more than 30 other men have told him they were Father Neary victims, too.
The church determined the allegations were credible and offered to pay the man’s counseling bills. He said that Father Neary came to his home, and told his parents he was going to offer their son special teachings, difficult spiritual lessons, on becoming a priest. He warned that learning to serve God was a hard journey, and the boy might be upset, emotional, after the demands of each private session.
“I have nightmares that would keep Stephen King awake,” he said.
Father Neary took the child to a room and raped him, a routine that would be repeated dozens upon dozens of times. Father Neary promised the boy that sex would make him more holy. When he cried in pain, the man said the priest told him to be quiet because his suffering was nothing compared to the pain of Jesus’ crucifixion. He said Father Neary told him he was worthless and threatened to hurt others in his family if he revealed the truth.
In a 2011 deposition, another man said he was sexually abused by the Father Neary when he was 13 years old. He filed sued to try to get the Diocese of Syracuse to pay for the cost of counseling as a result of the abuse. The lawsuit was settled in 2012, but the terms were not made public.
Father Neary retired in 1995. He died at age 83 in September 2001. He is among 20 priests who were dead at the time an allegation of abuse was reported and faced no claims while alive.
In 2019, two victims of child-molesting priests fought back tears as they told their stories and called on the Catholic bishop of Syracuse to resign. About 50 people listened to Kevin Braney and Charles Bailey retell the repeated abuse they suffered as children.
Bailey told the horror of being raped more than 200 times by the Rev. Thomas Neary when Bailey was 10 years old. Neary would get Bailey alone in the boy’s bedroom under the guise of teaching him to be a priest, Bailey said. In 2021, Bailey release a book “In The Shadow Of The Cross,” which gives graphic and shocking PTSD-inducing detail of the serial felonies of Neary.
“He would tell my mother, ‘Don’t be surprised if he’s crying, because it’s difficult to be a priest,’” Bailey said. “He would recite the Our Father as he raped me. I don’t think people realize the depth and breadth of this evil.”
Father Neary’s name appeared publicly on the Diocese of Syracuse’s list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors, published in December 2018.
Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Diocese of Syracuse in New York. The Diocese of Syracuse filed for federal bankruptcy protection in June 2020. Anyone sexually abused by a priest or employee of the Diocese of Syracuse may be entitled to file a claim against the Diocese in these bankruptcy proceedings, but very strict filing deadlines apply. Most victims of abuse in the Diocese of Syracuse will never be able to take any legal action if they miss this bankruptcy filing deadline, so it is important that you contact us immediately to discuss your potential case. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in New York and nationwide. We can help.