NEW HARTFORD – A man who claims he was sexually abused by a local priest as a boy has filed suit against the Diocese of Syracuse and other organizations.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Syracuse, Steven Moran of New Hartford alleges he was sexually abused as a child by Thomas Neary, a priest who was assigned to St. John the Evangelist Church in New Hartford. Moran says from 1954-1960 Neary abused him at several locations in Central New York, including the church, Camp Nazareth in Woodgate, Neary’s parents’ house in Solvay, and in Neary’s car. Moran was approximately ten years old at the time of the alleged abuse.
Moran’s lawsuit alleges personal injuries, emotional distress, and anguish as a result of the sexual abuse. The lawsuit says the Diocese is responsible for monetary damages because they knew or should have known that Neary was a predator and allowed him to be a priest and have access to children anyway. St. John the Evangelist Church and Camp Nazareth are also named as defendants, as well as a second unidentified priest. Neary died in 2001 at the age of 83.
The suit comes on the first day of New York State’s new “Child Victims Act”, which allows people one year to file civil lawsuits that had previously been barred by the state's statute of limitations, which were among the nation's tightest. Lawmakers voted this year to extend the statute of limitations going forward and to create the one-year litigation window to give victims a new chance to file lawsuits.
In a letter to the Diocese dated August 10, newly-installed Bishop Douglas Lucia addressed the Child Victims Act, saying in part “…To all victims, I once again in the name of the Diocese of Syracuse apologize most deeply and sincerely for the heinous acts perpetrated against them by their abusers who were supposed to be the caregiver of souls. I renew my offer to meet with victims, if there is any way I can assist them in their search for healing and peace.”
NewsChannel 2 has reached out to Moran’s attorney for comment on the lawsuit.