Over 95 clergymen from Queens accused of sexual abuse named in Diocese report

Holy Cross
THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The Brooklyn Diocese has released a list of priests spanning the 20th century who they say have credible claims of sexual abuse against them from victims, either before or after their death.

The report also shows that while many of the alleged sexual predators are long dead, many not only served in Queens, but about 40 percent are still alive, though none of them still serve as clergymen, either by their own volition or by removal from the ministry.

Up to 95 of those listed served at locations in Forest Hills, Ridgewood and Flushing with one of the most notorious offenders being Father Adam Prochaski, who served at Holy Cross School in Maspeth from 1969 to 1994 and has been accused of abusing more than 20 female victims, according to Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse.

What differs between the earlier report released by the legal organization and the report released by the diocese is that it does not list the number of accusations against various priests and only indicates whether reports emerged before or after the individuals death and how they eventually left the diocese. The diocese report does not list clergy members currently serving with accusations against them.

“As we know, sexual abuse is a shameful and destructive problem that is found in all aspects of society, yet it is especially egregious when it occurs within the church and such abuse cannot be tolerated,” Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio said in a letter. “It is my hope that publishing this list will provide some assistance to some of those who are continuing the difficult process of healing, as well as encouraging other victims to come forward.”

There are more than 100 priests on the list and the diocese said it is aware of about 14 percent of cases prior to a 2017 effort to pay remediations to victims.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who was depicted in the film “Spotlight,” was also defending alleged victims of Prochaski and in 2017 told TimesLedger that not only did the diocese owe the women coming forward settlement, but also warned that Prochaski was still in the New York City area.

Linda Porcaro, a teacher who was close to the matter, told Timesledger in an interview that Prochaski was a physically imposing figure at the parish school for both boys and girls, often using this to intimidate those aware of his misconduct.

“He was mean and intimidating,” Porcaro said in an interview with TimesLedger. “He was very large, he towered over me … He was about 6-foot-4, he wasn’t slim, He wasn’t overweight, but he was built and to a child that’s already very intimidating. I know he was rough with the boys, I saw him with the boys.”

Prochaski is listed as resigned from the ministry as of 1994, the year a spokeswoman from the diocese says the first reports against him arose, but Garabedian claims records showed the priest was on sick leave between 1995 and 2002.

“Based on my experience from handing clergy sexual abuse cases, that is code for in many instances pedophilia and treatment for pedophilia,” Garabedian said. “It’s troubling that Bishop [Vose] Daily and other supervisors of Father Prochaski did not protect innocent children when Father Prochaski was openly and notoriously sexually abusing children in the hallways of the Holy Cross School, the Holy Cross Church and other locations.”

Another priest to make both lists was Romano Ferraro, who served in the Rockaways as well as many other locations across the state from 1960 to 2002.

He was placed on sick leave twice during his career as a priest and in 2002 was arrested in connection with the raping an underaged boy in Massachusetts between 1973 and 1980. At trial, Ferraro admitted to abusing dozens of  children before receiving a life sentence in 2004.

The Brooklyn Diocese has released the report as part of an Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program with attorney Kenneth Fienberg as the administrator.

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