Fr. Bruce Ritter – Archdiocese of New York

| Aug 16, 2020 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Bruce Ritter

Archdiocese of New York / Conventual Franciscan

Bruce Ritter Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1956

Died: 1999

Assigned as follows:

  • 1957-1959: Unknown
  • 1960-1961: St. Anthony on Hudson (Rensselaer, NY)
  • 1962: St. Hyacinth (Granby, MA)
  • 1963: St. Francis of Assisi (Pittsburgh, PA)
  • 1964-1977: Manhattan College (New York, NY)
  • 1978-1990: Covenant House (New York, NY)
  • 1983: Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (New York, NY)
  • 1984-1989: Covenant House (Houston, TX)
  • 1990-1992: Covenant House (Anchorage, AK)

Summary of Abuse Allegations against Father Bruce Ritter:

Fr. Bruce Ritter, born John Ritter, was ordained a priest for the Order of Friars of Minor Conventual (“Conventual Franciscans”). He served in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania in the early years of his career. In 1969, Rittner founded Covenant House in New York City (Greenwich Village) as a shelter and foundation for homeless and troubled youth. By 1990, Ritter expanded the Covenant House to 178 locations in North and South America. He became a well-known and admired public figure, earning praise from Presidents Reagan and Bush, Sr.  Ritter ran Covenant House virtually unchecked. Church officials and the organization’s insiders ignored years of rumors about his relationships with boys and a mysterious, secret “safe-house” program for certain youths who were Ritter’s favorites.

Father Ritter resigned from Covenant House in 1990 following allegations published in the New York Post that he sexually exploited young men at the shelter.   There were also vocal concerns about a secret trust fund.  Yet, Ritter was never charged with a crime.

According to media reports, in December 1989, a man reported that Ritter had sexually abused him when he was a teenager in 1973. That same month, a 26-year-old former male prostitute accused Ritter of paying for their recent eight-month affair with Covenant House money.

In February 1990, another alleged victim brought a lawsuit alleging Ritter abused him as a young teen seeking help from the Covenant House.

“At 14, what was I to do? Was I to say no? Was I to be put back on the streets?” the man said. “I stayed, and I endured until I could go someplace else.”

The suit was later dismissed in 1991 due to the statute of limitations. Ritter denied the allegations but resigned under pressure from his Franciscan superiors in 1990. He went on to live a quiet life in a farmhouse in rural Otsego County.  Ritter was named as a perpetrator in multiple lawsuits following the passage of New York’s Child Victim Act.  In one of the cases, he and Father Alwell are accused of repeatedly molesting a 15 year old boy who resided at Covenant House.

Ritter died in October 1999.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of New York. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest or other Catholic clergy in New York State, contact our office today. Although many years have passed, those abused by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of New York 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.

Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.