Rev. Gregory Yacyshyn, the pastor of St. Jude Church on Long Island is the target of a lawsuit against the diocese, alleging he is a “public nuisance.” The suit claims there is a history of the church covering up priest sexual abuse and allowing child molesters to live openly in the community.
The Rockville Centre Diocese spokesman says these claims lack of “credible allegations” and he believes the community is safe, according to the New York Daily News.
The key decision maker in keeping Yacyshyn in the pulpit is Bishop William Murphy, who is a vocal opponent of the Child Victims Act. Murphy believes the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims should remain where it is, while many believe there should be no time limit on when a person can bring charges for child molestation.
In 2014, Murphy authored a letter to pastors describing the law as an “annual threat” and claimed that the Catholic church has already handled sexual abuse problems internally.
Murphy suggested that supporters of the bill “should be opposed by those of us who know how effectively and permanently the church has remedied that horrific scourge.”
A grand jury investigation in 2003 found that Murphy’s diocese used the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims to suppress allegations from victims. The diocese was found to have protected at least 58 priests despite what the prosecutor called “overwhelming evidence that [they] were committing crimes against children.”
The watchdog group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says that Murphy has a long history of dragging his feet on cases of child molestation from priests.
“He’s awful,” said national director David Clohessy. “He was one of (Bernard) Cardinal Law’s top deputies in Boston.” The city is home to one of the shocking and shameful church sexual abuse cover ups and was depicted in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight.”
Monday, Democrats in the legislature attempted to force a vote on the legislation but Murphy’s friend, Senate Majority leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County), managed to block it.
Existing New York law has a cutoff at the age of 23 for filing civil or criminal charges. They also allow the archdiocese to preserve secrets around abuse.
“The statute of limitations enables the diocese . . . to continue a pattern of practice that keeps secret the identities and whereabouts of abusers,” Mike Reck, an attorney whose Minnesota firm that has represented thousands of victims of church sex abuse, explained to the NYDN.
The spokesman for the diocese declined to quantify how they decide if a sex abuse allegation is considered “credible.”