April 15, 2021 is the deadline to file for compensation through the Diocese of Syracuse’s bankruptcy proceedings. Headquartered in Syracuse, New York, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is responsible for the interests of the Catholic Church in the seven counties of Central and South Central New York State: Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga and Oswego. It is estimated that there are nearly one quarter of a million Catholics in this region.
But the April 15 deadline will not be the end of the story. Even after April 15, those hurt by Syracuse clerics are still able to expose their predators and protect other kids.
We have identified a shocking 62 clergy and 1 lay teacher who worked in the Diocese of Syracuse who have been publicly accused of sexually abusing minors. In many cases, the perpetrators were merely transferred from parish to parish after allegations arose, and left a long trail of victims across the Diocese of Syracuse.
The Syracuse diocese itself admits 57 such abusive clergy and lists them on its website, as of two years ago.
About 20 of them are still alive (which means some could still be assaulting children).
All of this prompted us at Horowitz Law to take a closer look at the list of credibly accused abusive clerics on the Syracuse diocese website.
In a nutshell, it’s incomplete and inadequate in many ways. We’ll point out just three simple but significant shortcomings.
–It apparently includes no religious order clerics. Typically, religious order clerics are about 30% of the priests, brothers and monks in any diocese. So right off the bat, the Syracuse list is lacking.
–It also apparently includes no work assignments for the predator priests. Those assignments ARE provided by many other dioceses. And they’re helpful because when parents see that the Fr. Smith who was in their parish is now ‘credibly accused’ of abuse, those parents are more apt to spread the word, warn others about him, and even ask their own kids and friends “Hey, did Fr. Smith ever do anything creepy or hurtful to you?” – a question that can lead to healing, prevention and sometimes even criminal prosecutions and convictions.
–And it apparently includes no appeal to victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police or prosecutors. This omission only helps those who commit or conceal child sex crimes. It also increases the likelihood that if someone DOES know or suspect wrongdoing, they’ll call church figures, not secular authorities. And when church officials are the first to get abuse reports, they have the chance to begin covering them up.
In fact, Syracuse Bishop Douglas Lucia brags on his website that “significant steps have been taken to reach out to victims, involve the laity, partner with law enforcement” in abuse cases. But if that’s true, why won’t he say – prominently and repeatedly – “If you see, suspect or suffer abuse, please call the law.”
To their credit, Syracuse church officials do break down the accused priests into helpful categories.
Among the still-living current and former Syracuse predator priests: Robert Birchmeyer, John Broderick, Edmund Durr, John Harrold, James Hayes, Donald Hebert, Robert Kloster, C. Vincent Lane Jr., William Lorenz, Edward Madore, George Mattice Jr., Chester Misercola, Robert Ours, Joseph Pace, David Pichette, Albert Proud, James A. Quinn, John Wagner and Jerome Weber.
Among the Syracuse priests who were accused of abuse after they passed away: Thomas Bayley, Robert Bogan, Roger Bowan, John Donovan, Luke Gallagher, Bernard Garstka, Donald Gorman, Ferdinand Hattala, Edgar Holihan, Edward Humphrey, William Lynch, John McCarthy, William Morris, John “Jack” Morse, Thomas Neary Jr., Thomas Powell, Edward George Quaid, Francis Sammons, Martin Tracy and David Walker.
Among the Syracuse priests who asked to be defrocked: Albert Cason, Paul Cloonan, Gerard Guli, Joseph Larrabee, Foster Rogers and Michael Volino.
Among the Syracuse priests whose cases were ‘adjudicated’ within church processes and were given some kinds of consequences for their wrongdoing: Thomas Burr, Thomas Corbett, Robert Hammond, William Lum, Vincent Panepinto, David Simon, Francis Vogt, Robert Winterkorn, Paul Schnacky, Eugene Emo, Dennis Sewar and Dennis Shaw.
Finally, among the Syracuse priests who were accused of abuse but church officials claim they haven’t or can’t resolve the accusations: David Gramkee, Robert O’Neill, John Steger and Conrad Sundholm.
Other Catholic dioceses and archdioceses across the country have also filed for bankruptcy, including Buffalo and Rockville Centre (August 14, 2021 deadlines).
(Similar bankruptcy deadlines are approaching in other nearby dioceses including Camden NJ diocese on June 30).
So if you want to see wrongdoers exposed, crimes prevented, kids safeguarded and victims healed, please spread the word about these deadlines. And if you’re inclined to prod Catholic officials to reform, feel free to begin by pushing Syracuse church hierarchy to be more honest and inclusive with their ‘credibly accused’ predator priest list.
(NOTE – Bishop Lucia is originally from the Ogdensburg diocese where he held several important positions. In 2019, he replaced retiring Syracuse Bishop Robert Cunningham.)