The Diocese of Rockville Centre is home to 1.5 million Catholics living in the counties of Nassau and Suffolk, a region known better as Long Island. It is the sixth largest diocese in the United States and approximately 60 of its priests have been accused of the sexual abuse of children. But Rockville Centre knows how to deal with this issue.
The diocese routinely reassigned accused or suspected pedophiles to churches on the East End dating back to the 1960s. The East End is sparsely populated and the strategy of moving problem priests there is analogous to the dioceses of Ireland banishing offending priests to Australia.
According to the grand jury report filed in 2003, “Bishop William Murphy aided and abetted the concealment of criminal conduct of defendant individual priests by failing and refusing to report sexual abuse allegations by said priests to civil authorities, which caused, allowed, and permitted additional children to be molested by predatory priests.”
Murphy learned how to deal with pedophile priests as an assistant bishop in Boston. He was Cardinal Law’s principal assistant and was part of the cover-up involving notorious priest John Geoghan.
Rev Angelo Ditta was a priest at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mattituck in 2002. According to the grand jury, “He began abusing a boy when the boy was 10.” An associate pastor testified that he heard “horsing around” in the priest’s bedroom and believed it was sexual in nature. The pastor told the jury he “never made an official report to anyone in the diocese” about the priest.
Two weeks after Bishop Murphy said there were no “credible” allegations of sexual abuse against any active priest on Long Island, the diocese quietly removed Rev. Ditta from active duty based on a complaint.
“The diocese required the priest to receive psychological counseling, and it later assigned him as chaplain to an ‘area’ hospital, allowing him to celebrate Mass at a parish on weekends,” according to the grand jury minutes.
It was later discovered in civil court the allegations that a victim and his therapist made to a top diocesan official were five years old and kept under wraps by the diocese. Then-Suffolk District Attorney Tom Spota said the charge “might have been prosecutable had the diocese reported them” in a timely manner.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre knows how to deal with pedophile priests — transfer them to the end of Long Island where their crimes will go unnoticed and unreported.
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