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More Sexual Abuse Accusations Against Priest

Dec 11, 2002 | AP

Three more former altar boys have filed lawsuits alleging they were sexually molested decades ago by a priest assigned to churches in Owego and Spencerport.

A total of six lawsuits now have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester and the Vatican diocese. Five of the lawsuits name St. Patrick's Church in Owego as a defendant. The other lawsuit names a Catholic church in Spencerport, near Rochester in Monroe County.

Ronald R. Benjamin, the attorney representing all six plaintiffs, said his clients alleged they were sexually abused by the Rev. Albert Cason, although the priest is not named as a defendant in any of the lawsuits.

Cason, a co-pastor at the Owego church from 1973 to 1985, fondled the plaintiffs and had sex with them, the lawsuits alleged. Most were preteens or in their early teens when the abuse occurred, court documents indicate.

The three suits filed Tuesday are seeking $40 million each in damages from the churches, the diocese and the Vatican, Benjamin said. The three suits filed earlier seek damages totaling $98 million. Benjamin said he expects to file two or three more lawsuits later this week, naming the same defendants.

The diocese removed Cason from his ministry for sexual misconduct in 1985, but no criminal charges were filed.

Benjamin said he was denied a Freedom of Information Law request he filed with the Tioga County Sheriff's Department to look at files from the investigation conducted on Cason in the early 1980s. An appeal to the Tioga County Legislature to look at the files also failed this week, Benjamin said.

Benjamin said he would file an appeal in state Supreme Court to have the files released. Benjamin said he was interested in two letters that may have been sent from the sheriff's department to the diocese and to the Holy See concerning Cason's alleged crimes.

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