Can you help us figure something out? Despite decades of experience with child sex abuse cases, we at Horowitz Law are confused about a priest just “outed” as an abuser by his church supervisors.
Last week, the Albany diocese announced that it’s adding Fr. Lawrence G. McTavey to its list of credibly accused child molesting clerics.
So far, a pretty typical-sounding pedophile priest case, right? Yes.
Pretty straightforward, right? No.
Two quick facts you should know, according to WRGB TV: “The diocesan review board hired an investigator to look into a long history of allegations against Fr. McTavey” against whom “multiple abuse claims were filed between 2002 and 2019.”
Now, here where it gets confusing and here are a few of our questions:
Why did Albany Catholic officials apparently publicly disclose nothing about Fr. McTave
–when he was apparently first accused of abuse in 2002 (when all US bishops agreed, in writing, to be ‘open and transparent’ about predators)
–when the diocese first posed a ‘credibly accused’ list in 2015 and
–when the diocese updated that list in 2018 and
–updated it again in 2019 and
–when Fr. McTavey died almost a year ago.
Why did Albany church officials – including Bishop Howard Hubbard and Bishop Edward Scharfenberger – wait nearly two decades before taking action against this priest?
And this of course leads to perhaps the most disturbing question of all: If the Albany diocese hides allegations against this one priest for almost 20 years – AFTER the US bishops’ abuse policy (a.k.a. “the Dallas Charter”) pledging reform – how many other predators is it STILL hiding?
It should surprise no one that abuse continues to be mishandled in Albany. Bishop Hubbard faces several civil cases charging that he molested kids. And his replacement, Bishop Scharfenberger has been repeatedly blasted for shortcomings in abuse and cover up cases by SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and other groups and individuals.
But since Albany’s bishops, priests and lay chancery staff have been so irresponsible and secretive about Fr. McTavey, we at Horowitz Law decided to disclose more information about this predator that church officials have NOT disclosed. Fr. McTavey
—was a native of Troy NY,
—attended schools and seminaries in Rochester, Loundonville and Niagara.
—worked at churches in Stillwater, Cohoes, Crescent, Waterford, Troy and Albany,
—traveled to New York City whenever possible,
—headed the diocesan school board,
—spent considerable time in abroad (“took a sabbatical to study in Rome, took an extended trip to Ireland and travelled extensively throughout Europe.”)
Why is this relevant? Because it clearly shows that for decades and decades, Fr. McTavey had tremendous access to kids. (He also had family in Glenville, Clifton Park, and Greenbush, all in New York.)
And because this kind of biographical detail is what a responsible employer would reveal about a child molester, if that employer genuinely wanted to bring about healing, by prodding and clarifying the memories of others who were around the predator. (“See, honey, that Fr. McTavey DID work in both Cohoes and Waterford. So he IS the guy who took our son Bob camping years ago. Let’s call Bob and see if anything bad happened.”)
In all fairness, while we specifically mentioned two Albany bishops in this post, they aren’t the only ones who’ve been less than forthcoming in this case.
For starters, there are two ‘vicars general’ in the diocese. These are high ranking positions whose occupants often have access to valuable private church information (like who’s admitted or been accused of abuse). They are Fr. David LeFort ([email protected]) and Fr. Bob Longobucco ([email protected]).
These two may have known about McTavey. And if they didn’t, they should be in the bishop’s face, confronting him about his continued secrecy.
Then there are the offices of “Safe Environment” and “Protecting Children:” Joyce Tarantino ([email protected], 518-453-6635) Brian Evers ([email protected], 518-453-6635) and Anna Bagley ([email protected]), Frederick Jones ([email protected], 518-453-6646).
Then there’s the diocesan review board, which looks at abuse cases: Jon Allen, Fr. David V. Berberian, Joseph Bernier, Jaclyn A. Brilling, Kathryn M. Martin, Sister Serena A. Thompson and Lawrence Wiest.
Some of the blame surely also rests with the diocese’s Communications Department: Mary Deturris Poust ([email protected], 518 453-6618, @MaryDTP), Jason Husch ([email protected]), Molly Halpin ([email protected]) and their predecessors.
Presumably, they work in education because they care about kids. So they’re particularly obligated to make sure the boss isn’t concealing information that might endanger kids.
Let’s go back to the simplest question: “Why do all these Albany church officials say nothing about abuse reports against Fr. McTavey for almost 20 years?”
And let’s end with the most upsetting: “What else are all they hiding?”