Multiple Clergy Abuse Lawsuits Filed against the Diocese of Ogdensburg New York
Posted on: September 24, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
The Diocese of Ogdensburg was named in 20 lawsuits claiming clergy sexual abuse. Of those 20 filings, 7 new clergy members have been publicly identified for the first time. According to the Diocese of Ogdensburg website, since August 2019, 71 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese.
The new clergy members being accused for the first time include:
- Monsignor F. Gordon Coseo
- Accused of child sex abuse at Notre Dame in Malone, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1971-1976
- Father Joseph W. Elliott
- Accused of child sex abuse at St. Michael in Parishville, NY and St. Mary in Potsdam, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1985-1988
- Father George A. Fontaine
- Accused of child sex abuse at Our Lady of Lourdes in Schroon Lake, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1971
- Father Frank M. Kearns
- Accused of child sex abuse at St. Joseph in Dannemora, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1965-1967
- Monsignor Joseph F. Luker
- Accused of child sex abuse at St. Peter in Lowville, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1971 or 1972
- Monsignor John F. Pendergast
- Accused of child sex abuse at St. Mary in Massena, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1987-1989
- Father Donald E. Seguin
- Accused of child sex abuse at Sacred Heart in Crown Point, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1961
In addition to the newly accused priests, 3 of the perpetrators have been named in numerous complaints and include:
- Father Emile G. LaLonde
- Five total complaints filed for sexual abuse at St. John the Baptist in Madrid, NY and St. Augustine in North Bangor, NY
- Approx. dates of alleged abuse = 1960s – 1970s
- Father John J. Fallon
- Five total complaints filed for sexual abuse
- Fallon was criminally convicted in 1986 in connection with receiving child pornography in the mail
- Father Liam O’Doherty
- Four total complaints filed for sexual abuse, the most recent dates back to alleged abuse in 1966
- O’Doherty was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in 1979 for sexually abusing minors at St. Ann in Saint Regis Falls, NY
- O’Doherty’s whereabouts are currently unknown
The Diocese of Ogdensburg covers the northernmost part of New York state, including the counties of; Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence and the northern portions of Hamilton and Herkimer, and thus the diocese falls under New York’s Child Victims Act. Even though these new lawsuits allege clergy sexual abuse from more than 20 years ago, the act allows survivors of sexual abuse to file claims against the perpetrators and the organizations responsible. Prior to the passing of this legislation, many of these claims would likely have been past the statute of limitations and these victims would have been unable to file their claims in court. In May of this year, New York legislators agreed to extended The Child Victims Act deadline to January 14, 2021 due to shutdowns in the court system caused by coronavirus.
The Child Victims Act is allowing many childhood abuse survivors to seek accountability through compensation. According to the church, the growing number of child sex abuse lawsuits has put a financial strain on many of New York’s Dioceses, and some have even sought bankruptcy protection from the courts. Three of the six New York Dioceses, including the Diocese of Syracuse, Buffalo, and Rochester have already filed for bankruptcy protection. To date, the Diocese of Ogdensburg has not sought bankruptcy protection but church officials have admitted that it is an option. Many survivors’ groups have been critical about the Roman Catholic Church’s attempts to hide assets through bankruptcies in an effort to lower the compensation paid to victims of clergy sexual abuse. In fact, in an expose conducted by Bloomberg Businessweek, the news mongrel estimated that over $2 billion in assets had been shielded by the Catholic Church through bankruptcy proceedings.
Even with the threat of bankruptcy, there are still many legal options available to survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
The entire article can be viewed here.
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