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Daily to Give DA List

Apr 11, 2002 | New York Daily News

Bishop Thomas Daily will give prosecutors a list tomorrow of at least 35 Brooklyn Diocese priests accused of sexual abuse during the past two decades.

Daily's move, a major shift from his refusal to open church files, means that all three Catholic dioceses in the New York area soon will have turned over about 85 misconduct complaints — some dating back 40 years.

In making the announcement yesterday, neither Daily nor prosecutors would say officially how many priests are on the list.

But one law enforcement source told the Daily News it included some 35 names, with the cases evenly split between Brooklyn and Queens — the two boroughs covered by the diocese.

Diocese staffers still are poring through records, and the number of names could grow, church officials said.

Daily, who was criticized for his handling of abuse claims during his tenure as chancellor in Boston, said that turning over the records is "the best way to cooperate with the spirit of the law."

"Our primary concern is for the welfare and safety of children," he said. "That is foremost in our mind."

Subject of Negotiations

Church officials and prosecutors from Queens and Brooklyn had negotiated the release of the names over the past several days.

Daily did not say whether the diocese had investigated the charges against any of the priests or what its findings were.

The Archdiocese of New York, which turned over a list of about three dozen complaints last week, stated that some of the cases already had been prosecuted or remained unsubstantiated.

The Brooklyn Diocese relieved one accused priest of his duties last month. A diocese spokesman said Monday that no other suspensions were imminent.

Prosecutors in Brooklyn and Queens praised Daily's decision.

"I was confident that the Brooklyn Diocese would provide me with information to allow me to proceed with my responsibilities," said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes. "I am pleased that Bishop Daily has agreed to turning over all historical case files."

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown called the upcoming release a "positive and productive step [to] assist me in carrying out my responsibilities in protecting the safety of all citizens, especially our children."

'A Wonderful Start'

An advocacy group that represents abuse victims also praised Daily.

"It's a wonderful start," said Susan Langford, New York regional director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "Of course, the capitulation was due to mounting legal and public pressure."

Prosecutors said they don't know whether any of the accused priests from the Brooklyn Diocese can be charged with crimes. Child abuse complaints must be prosecuted within five years of being reported, or by the alleged victim's 23rd birthday.

The New York Archdiocese announced the suspension of six accused priests Sunday. Another priest accused of molesting children, the Rev. Francis Stinner, has been told he can no longer say Mass at St. John and St. Mary Church in Chappaqua, Westchester County.

The Rockville Centre Diocese on Long Island has forwarded 14 past allegations to prosecutors.

Daily's policy for handling future claims remained unclear yesterday.

He did not directly address the issue, other than to say the diocese is concerned about protecting the confidentiality of accusers. He stated that prosecutors have agreed to be "mindful of the importance of confidentiality."

But Hynes said the diocese has agreed to forward future complaints to his office "without conditions."

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