WE NEED YOUR HELP — Support your hometown newspaper by making a donation.

Law firm releases list of 65 priests formerly in the Diocese of Rockville Centre accused of sexual abuse

Posted

A report released by a Minnesota-based law firm last week lists the names of 65 priests who at one point worked in the Diocese of Rockville Centre and were accused of sexual abuse, as pressure from abuse survivors and their advocates on the diocese to release all names of those credibly accused continues.

The diocese is one of eight in the state, and comprises 133 parishes, 57 schools and 109 other facilities, according to the report compiled by Jeff Anderson and Associates. There are currently 304 priests, 289 permanent deacons, 60 religious brothers and 875 religious sisters in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, it adds, according to church records.

The 40-page report was created from publicly available sources, claims made by survivors to the dioceses responsible for the offenders and legal settlements, it states. The histories of where the listed priests were assigned were gathered from the Official Catholic Directory, BishopAccountability.org, statements from church officials, diocesan records and media reports.

At a news conference in Uniondale on Monday, Anderson joined Steven Werner, of North Carolina, who alleged he was abused in the 1970s by the late Rev. Peter Charland in St. James. The two called for the diocese to release the names of credibly accused priests. The New York Archdiocese, the Diocese of Brooklyn, among others, have published such lists in the past few months.

Sean Dolan, spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, wrote in a statement last month that the diocese “believes that while the investigations of claims and allegations are ongoing, it is premature to release a list of accused clergy.” He added that not one priest or deacon of the diocese who has been the subject of a credible and substantiated claim of abuse against a child is in the ministry, and that all allegations, credible are not, are reported to authorities.

Six former St. Agnes Cathedral priests are listed in Anderson’s report, including longtime Bishop John McGann, Msgr. Edward Melton, the Rev. Robert L. Brown and Father John J. McGeever. Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian said at a news conference in February that a woman he was representing accused Bishop John R. McGann, who was a monsignor and auxiliary bishop at the time, along with Melton and Brown, all of whom are now dead, of sexually abusing her between 1961 and 1971, the Herald previously reported. Another woman, he said, claims she was also abused by McGann and Melton in that period.

McGann served as bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre from 1976 to 1999. He died in 2002, at age 77.

Two men told the Herald in 2017 and 2018 that Father John J. McGeever, who worked at St. Agnes Cathedral in the 1980s, sexually abused them as children. McGeever died in 1993.