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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Read It And Weep

The sh*t is slowly starting to hit the fan.

Outing Cardinal Egan
A priest's lawsuit alleges the Catholic Church is hiding pedophile clergy — and offers a stunning reason why

February 7 — Who knows whether Cardinal Edward Egan is sleeping soundly these days. But as head of the New York archdiocese—as the top Roman Catholic prelate in the state—he'd have every reason to be restless after the recent advent of a little-noticed lawsuit.


The suit, now pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, was filed on December 13 by Bob Hoatson — a 53-year-old New Jersey priest considered a stalwart ally among survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. Hoatson, the now-suspended chaplain for Catholic Charities in Newark, is suing Egan and nine other Catholic officials and institutions, claiming a pattern of "retaliation and harassment" that began after Hoatson alleged a cover-up of clergy abuse in New York and started helping victims.


But that's not all his lawsuit claims. Halfway through the 44-page complaint, the priest-turned-advocate drops a bomb on the cardinal: He alleges Egan is "actively homosexual," and that he has "personal knowledge of this." His suit names two other top Catholic clerics in the region as actively gay—Albany bishop Howard Hubbard and Newark
archbishop John Myers.

It's not that Hoatson has a problem with, as the suit puts it, "consensual, adult private sexual behavior by these defendants."


No, what Hoatson claims is that, as leaders of a church requiring celibacy and condemning homosexuality, actively gay bishops are too afraid of being exposed themselves to turn in pedophile priests. The bishops' closeted homosexuality, as the lawsuit states, "has compromised defendants' ability to supervise and control predators, and has served
as a reason for the retaliation."

Hoatson realizes what he's up against. "I stopped and I thought long and hard about these allegations," he says. "It's time the church confronts this dysfunction. I couldn't do this outside of filing a lawsuit. The only thing the church responds to is negative publicity or a lawsuit. If I kept trying to do this within the system, I would be gone."


The case hinges on several statutory and legal claims. It argues that Egan and the other bishops retaliated against Hoatson for being a whistle-blower, that they intended to harm him and his career, and that they engaged in a conspiracy to do so.


Two years ago, a flurry of allegations that Hubbard had sexual relationships with several men, including a teenage street hustler and three diocesan priests, rocked local churches. Hubbard, who denied the charges, called for an investigation, and his handpicked lay review board hired Mary Jo White, a respected former federal prosecutor in Manhattan. White was paid $2.2 million for a four-month inquiry that ended up clearing Hubbard of all accusations. Aretakis represented the two main accusers.


Aretakis puts little credence in the investigation, calling it "the most expensive piece of fiction ever produced." He denounced White for essentially investigating her own client, and he and his clients refused to cooperate.


Now that similar allegations are written in a lawsuit, the landscape has changed. Now, Aretakis has the platform to try to prove them — and he says he's prepared to do it. He says he's accumulated a list of priests and witnesses who have agreed to provide "firsthand evidence

of the sexual proclivities" of Egan, Hubbard, and Myers, if subpoenaed. Some have written statements relaying "homosexual relationships with these bishops," he maintains; others know people who have had the affairs.

Aretakis declined to show written documentation on the three bishops, saying, "I don't want to
reveal my hand at a time when I don't need to." He describes the evidence against Egan and Myers as involving consensual contact with adult men. Egan has a sporadic history of gay affairs, Aretakis claims, most of them dating back to his time as a seminarian. The lawyer alleges Myers has had gay affairs more recently, some within the past five years.

For Hubbard, it's a different story. On the condition that his clients' identities be shielded, Aretakis allowed the
Voice to view videotaped interviews with two men who allege they had sex with Hubbard for money as troubled teens, one in the 1970s, one in the early 1980s. Neither was included in the White investigation, though their allegations do resemble ones it ruled unfounded.

One of the men is now in prison and couldn't be reached before press time. The other, reached through Aretakis, told the
Voice independently that the details on the tape are true and that he gave the testimony of his own free will. Now married and living upstate, he has sought help from Aretakis for a potential abuse case against an Albany priest who he says also paid him for sex and introduced him to Hubbard. He says he may sue Hubbard as well. — Kristen Lombard, The Village Voice

The article continues here.

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