Hardy Plumbing
April 27, 2011

Priests Who Preyed: A History Of Cover-up



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In 2003 The Independent uncovered two shocking discoveries that up to that point had been hidden from the public; The Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre assigned two accused pedophiles to run St. Andrew's Parish in Sag Harbor – Reverend Alfred Soave and Rev. William Burke. Soave was described in court papers as "one of the worst" serial pedophiles in the diocese when he served as a pastor priest in the sixties. "A number of boys" accused him of sexually molesting them, according to court papers.

Rather than turn the priest over to authorities, the diocese engaged in a practice of discouraging the victims and their parents from filing charges, a practice the church followed all over the world for decades.

According to a Suffolk County Grand Jury report filed in 2003, "Bishop William Murphy aided and abetted the concealment of criminal conduct of defendant individual priests by failing and refusing to report to civil authorities allegations of sexual abuse by said priests, which caused, allowed and permitted additional children, including plaintiffs, to be molested by predatory priests."

Soave, dubbed "Bingo Al" at St. Andrews, served from 1969-73, and was replaced by Burke. The Independent interviewed an alleged victim who testified that he was drugged and forcibly raped by Burke in a Hampton Bays bungalow the priest reportedly used for trysts with altar boys. Hunter said the diocese and specifically then Bishop John McCann "brushed him off" when he complained. The pastor of his church reportedly said to the boy, "I've got to protect the priest."

It was later alleged in court filings that the diocese used Sag Harbor as "a dumping ground," hoping the sleepy whaling village was so far out east that its "priests who preyed" wouldn't attract as much attention. McCann transferred Burke to Sag Harbor – where there was a vibrant Catholic grammar school across the street from the church and rectory -- after Hunter's father went directly to the Bishop to complain.

Burke died when the bungalow burned to the ground in a midnight blaze. County fire officials did not label the fire "suspicious" but the scuttlebutt among Burke's victims was the cottage may have been torched.

Murphy, after he became bishop, sent Hunter a letter offering to "compensate" the victim for counseling costs.

The Grand Jury Report specifically criticizes Murphy, who as a senior official in Boston "placed a higher priority on preventing scandal and supporting abusers" than on the victims." A report in the Boston Globe stated there were "thousands of predator priests" in Boston when Murphy served there. There have been numerous calls for Murphy's resignation over the years.

Parents from Stella Maris complained the diocese has not infused the school with the necessary financing because settlements of abuse cases has drained its coffers.

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