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DELMAR – The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany removed Father Gregory Weider from the public prosecutor’s office on August 14 after a change in diocese policy in response to Child Victim Act lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse and to two other allegations of abuse in 2004 and 2010.
Weider, 84, served at St Thomas the Apostle in Delmar as associate pastor from June 1971 to July 1977, then at St. Mary’s in Coxsackie until March 1982. He retired from full-time ministry in 2010 and recently served as a sacramental minister. at the Sacred Heart in Margaretville and at Sainte-Anne in the Andes, according to a press release from the diocese announcing his dismissal. Weider was also the national chaplain of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting in the early 1980s.
A CVA lawsuit filed in the Albany County State Supreme Court on August 7 alleges Weider assaulted and sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy from 1977 to 1978 in St. Mary’s. However, before the August 14 deadline established under the Child Victims Act, this lawsuit would not have triggered a suspension, revocation or even a review by the diocese since it was a civil lawsuit. and that no complaint has been lodged directly with the diocese or district attorney.
In 2019, the state legislature passed and the governor enacted the New York Child Victims Act allowing a two-year window removing the statute of limitations for sexual abuse that occurred when the victim turned 18. or less. To date, more than 325 lawsuits have been filed against the Diocese of Albany.
The diocese’s policy regarding cases of criminal abuse brought to its attention – either directly by victims or through law enforcement – is now sent immediately to the appropriate district attorney, said Mary DeTurris Poust, director of communications for the diocese.
Poust explained that based on the memorandum of understanding he established in 2002 and updated in 2015, the diocese does not conduct an investigation until the prosecutor returns the case.
“At this point, an independent investigation takes place and the Diocesan Review Commission begins its study of the allegations and the accused. Once the investigator has completed his findings, they are presented to the review board, which then makes a recommendation to the Bishop of Albany. said Poust. “The bishop then evaluates all the information and makes a final decision.”
This process did not apply to CVA or civil litigation brought against a staff member, parish, or entity under the control of the diocese because, under the policy, the victim must contact the diocese or DA directly to trigger investigation.
When the diocese or DA is contacted directly, the diocesan victim assistance coordinator contacts the survivors’ council to offer to coordinate support services.
“The review board would not be engaged in a strictly CVA case unless the survivor makes that choice,” Poust said.
Under previous policy, the bishop asked the accused abuser to voluntarily withdraw from the ministry or post until the case was resolved. That has changed with Weider since he had past allegations or incidents.
According to diocesan officials, there are two complaints of abuse against Weider, one in 2004 and another in 2010. A review of his files, in light of a recent CVA complaint, led to the discovery of previous complaints, a Poust declared in a press release sent by email. .
“Because it is not known how either of these issues was resolved, they are now under investigation. Bishop Scharfenberger has asked the independent diocesan review committee to review original documentation and make a recommendation, “she said.” It has long been diocesan policy to remove any clergy with a complaint being investigated, which triggered the administrative leave of Father Weider pending the outcome of the investigation.
Other priests recently accused of sexual abuse in a CVA trial, the cases are also under review by the review board. Reverend John Varno and Reverend Vincent Ciotoli stepped down in August and will not exercise public ministry or stand as priests until investigations are completed.
Charges against Weider
Weider had served as a sacramental minister for two different congregations in Delaware County. As of Saturday August 14, Weider has not been allowed to officiate during the sacraments or wear office clothes. He must not present himself as a priest either. He retired from the priesthood in 2010.
Weider was named in a lawsuit filed with the Albany County State Supreme Court on Saturday, August 7, which alleged he sexually assaulted a teenager twice a week for about a year, from late 1977, when the victim was 14 years old. Weider began his role as pastor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in Coxsackie in October of the same year.
“Specifically, the abuse included, but was not limited to, the perpetrator’s touching, stroking and groping the plaintiff’s bare genitals; forcing the applicant then in infancy to touch, grope and stroke the naked genitals of the attackers; practicing oral sex with the then newborn complainant; and digitally penetrating the complainant while infant… ”, indicates the complaint.
The victim was then a foster child in the care of a Catholic family who had traveled to St. Mary’s. His host family introduced him to the congregation and he spent more time with Weider through recreational, educational and religious activities. The alleged abuse took place in the parish presbytery. According to the claim, Weider told his victim that no one would believe him if he told anyone.
The victim asked the court to remain anonymous. The claim traditionally uses masculine pronouns of him and him throughout.
“I do not want the facts and circumstances of the abuse I suffered to be known to my friends and especially to my family,” the victim said in a written request to the courts to remain anonymous. “If my name were publicly disclosed in this trial, I would suffer even more shame, guilt and embarrassment because of my sexual abuse. I have friends and family who are unaware of the abuse I suffered as a child.
The victim eventually informed her adoptive mother of the abuse. The request does not specify whether the family confronted Weider or withdrew from the congregation. He indicates, however, that the abuse was not reported under “the dominant culture of the Catholic Church”.
Since his ordination in 1963, Weider has served in several parishes including St. Thomas the Apostle. He also served at the Blessed Sacrament in Mohawk; Saint Anthony at Schenectady; Sainte-Agnès in Cohoes; St. Mary’s in Coxsackie; Holy Cross in Albany; Sacré-Coeur in Watervliet; and Holy Trinity in Schaghticoke, which was the amalgamation of St. John the Baptist and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Johnsonville, and St. Monica, Valley Falls.
Details of the other two complaints in 2004 and 2010 referenced in the diocese’s statement are unknown. Spotlight News has asked the diocese for more information on the two cases, but has yet to receive a response.
Boy Scouts – Weider and other attackers charged as chaplains
Weider was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts of America from the early 1970s and continued until at least 1986. This was at the diocese level and at the national level through the National Catholic Committee on Scouting.
According to its website, “(NCCS) is a church committee of concerned Catholic lay and clergy who see it as their mission to use the Boy Scouts of America program constructively as a viable form of youth ministry. Catholics of our nation. “
According to diocesan records, Weider served as Diocesan Chaplain for Scouting from 1972 to 1980. His national role with the NCCS began when he was elected Associate National Chaplain in 1980 for a three-year term. According to NCCS regulations, this position is automatically elevated to the rank of National Chaplain for an additional three-year term which he served until 1986.
His duties included the selection and selection of priests and seminarians to serve at the 137,000-acre Philmont Boy Scout Summer Camp in New Mexico, other Boy Scout camps and for the Jamborees:
According to Scouting magazine, 42 percent of young members of Scouting were enrolled in units belonging to the NCCS and other religious committees in 1981.
All priests appointed diocesan chaplains after Weider accused of abusers
During Weider’s tenure with the Boy Scouts, there was at least one abuse complaint against him, but he was not the only priest in the Diocese of Albany accused of abuse to hold the title of diocesan chaplain for the scouting.
In 1981 Father James Rosch was appointed by Bishop Howard Hubbard to be the next chaplain until 1994. He was assisted by Father Charles Gaffigan until 1985.
Rosch was removed from ministry in 2002 and was placed on the Diocesan Offender List in 2015. He is also named in two ongoing CVA prosecutions alleging abuse that took place between 1992 and 1993 at Sainte-Madeleine Sophie in Schenectady and in 1975 and 1976 in St. Joseph’s, Scotland.
Gaffigan has two CVA lawsuits accusing him of abuse in 1974 at St. Michaels in South Glens Falls and in 1992 and 1994 at Holy Infancy in Lake Luzerne.
Hubbard then appointed Father Joseph Schuck in 1994 to this post.
Schuck was a priest in the Diocese of Brooklyn until 1983, but was placed on leave and released by the Diocese of Brooklyn. He was then picked up by the Diocese of Albany and served from 1983 until his dismissal from Brooklyn in 2003 for abuse in the 1950s and was added to their diocesan list of offenders. He does not, however, appear on the Diocesan Offender List of Albany as a priest who was deposed and served in the Diocese of Albany.
Schuck’s status on the Brooklyn Diocese’s list was recently brought to the attention of diocesan leaders, and the process to include him on our list is underway, ”said Poust.
Schuck is the last priest appointed as chaplain of the Boy Scouts. The diocese now appoints deacons to this role.
Local Boy Scout Service
There is no record of Weider serving as leader with 71 Troop in St Thomas or other local troops, however 71 Troop was chartered in the late 1970s by the parish council. The process began when Weider was an associate pastor and an advocate for parishes and scouting units in the diocese. He explained how Scouting was part of the parish in an interview for the National Boy Scout Magazine in a September 1981 article.
“I think the Scouting Coordinator should act with the Catholic Committee and represent the Church on the Scout Council and Scouting on the Parish Council. The coordinator should be a member of the parish youth ministry program, ”he said.
Michael Hallisey co-wrote this story.