Lawyers call to unseal ex-bishop’s deposition, citing “outright lie” in editorial


ALBANY – Former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard accused of misrepresenting the way the Diocese of Albany has handled cases of sexual abuse, including “at least one outright lie” in editorial of August 13 in The Times Union in which he sought to explain the cover-up of the abuse by the religious organization.

Lawyers for those who have filed sexual abuse complaints against the diocese have brought the charge against Hubbard in recent court cases, and are asking a judge to unseal key parts of the former bishop’s testimony in April, when it was filed in private for four days as part of pre-trial proceedings involving dozens of cases filed under state child victims law.

In March – a month before Hubbard’s impeachment – lawyers in the case agreed to a stipulation that would allow the transcript of his deposition to remain sealed under a protective order.

Jeffrey R. Anderson and Cynthia S. LaFave, lawyers for dozens of alleged victims who are suing the Diocese, Hubbard or other former priests, told a judge in a recent filing that the reasons for the order of protection – including nuisance and potential harm – is no longer valid due to Hubbard’s alleged misrepresentation in the editorial on the Diocese’s Handling of Abuse Complaints.

Bishop Hubbard’s August 13 editorial in the Albany Times Union is replete with misrepresentation by omission and at least one blatant lie about his handling of allegations of child sexual abuse during his tenure as 37 years as bishop of the diocese of Albany, and the public has the right to know the whole truth, ”the lawyers wrote.

Hubbard’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. The plaintiffs’ record notes that Hubbard’s legal team as well as counsel for the Diocese of Albany oppose the potential unsealing of the testimony.

Two weeks before the publication of the Hubbard editorial, the Times Union reported on a similar statement it made to the newspaper in which it confirmed that the diocese had protected priests and others facing allegations of sexual abuse – sending them to private treatment programs rather than contacting the law. enforcement agents or alert parishioners. Some of these priests are said to have come out of treatment and have committed other crimes. Hubbard led the diocese from 1977 to 2014.

“When an allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest was received in the 1970s and 1980s, the common practice in the Diocese of Albany and elsewhere was to temporarily remove the priest from the ministry and send him for counseling and treatment, “Hubbard had said. “It was not until a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determined that the priest was able to return to ministry without recurrence that we considered putting the priest back into ministry. The professional advice we received was well-intentioned but imperfect, and I deeply regret that we have followed them. “

The unsealing of Hubbard’s deposition, which has been led by lawyers in multiple abuse cases, is sought in a case in which a victim of “John Doe” is suing the Diocese and Parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury, one of the parishes where former priest Gary J. Mercury, who is serving over 25 years in a Massachusetts prison, was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting several altar boys.

Hubbard’s Times Union editorial came as the Diocese of Albany faces around 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits. The cases, filed under a law that gave victims a two-year window to file claims outside the New York statute of limitations, describe decades of abuse allegedly committed by priests and others who stand in the way. are attacked children in their care, while using their position to evade responsibility.

In a detailed response to Times Union questions over the summer, Hubbard said he was a church leader in tackling abuse and had championed policies such as vetting history and compensation funds to repair the legacy of church sexual abuse. He denied ever ruling out abuse.

In the editorial published two weeks after this story was published, Hubbard said their “failure to inform the parish and the public when a priest was dismissed or reinstated was a mistake. … Most of the allegations received in the 1970s and ’80s involved misconduct well beyond the criminal and civil limitation periods.… At that time, it was felt that these crimes should be dealt with with a minimum of publicity that could re-victimize a minor. ”

Anderson, a lawyer for one of the nation’s largest abuse firms, declined to comment on Monday’s request to unseal Hubbard’s testimony, saying the case “speaks for itself.” He and LaFave have asked a judge to rule on their unsealing request in the coming weeks.

In their case, lawyers argue that the publication of Hubbard’s testimony “serves the purposes of the New York legislature by enacting the CVA, including public identification of predators, accountability of institutions that housed child sex offenders. and justice for survivors. … If Bishop Hubbard wanted to keep the information about which he was questioned in the deposition confidential, he should not have made the same subject public. “

Peter J. Saghir, lawyer for another alleged victim in the case against the diocese and parish of Our Lady of the Annunciation, filed a motion on Monday in support of the request for unsealing made by Anderson and LaFave.

Saghir wrote in his dossier that the Hubbard editorial contained “significant contradictions with his sworn testimony in an attempt to disguise the true nature of his conduct and to improperly influence the jury” if the cases were to be tried.

“Bishop Hubbard told the public that most of the allegations received in the 1970s and 1980s involved misconduct well beyond the criminal and civil statute of limitations, when the opposite is true,” Saghir wrote.

He added that Hubbard’s claims that he and society now have a better understanding of the addictive nature of sexual abuse and the lifelong scars of the victims are contradicted by his testimony in the deposition which indicates that he was aware of these consequences there. has decades, when the abuse was occurring. Saghir said Hubbard admitted to receiving detailed information from experts who informed him in the 1970s of the lifelong consequences for survivors and the likelihood of attackers only striking once.

Hubbard, “as head of the diocese, protected and allowed predatory priests to continue to abuse children despite the risks he knew of recidivism with his selfish goal of avoiding scandal and preserving the reputation of the church “Saghir wrote. “He seeks to continue to do the same now by distorting material facts and contradicting his own sworn testimony to avoid public scrutiny and avoid scandal, while promoting” respect for the priesthood. “

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