Four men are alleging that they were sexually molested three decades ago, when they were teen-agers preparing for the priesthood, by members of the Salesian Roman Catholic order.
In a lawsuit filed in state court in White Plains, the men claim Salesian officials, including one who is now an auxiliary bishop, knew the abuse was taking place.
The law firm representing the order said the case should be dismissed because the statute of limitations has run out.
“The Salesians’ comment is that although they appreciate that the plaintiffs feel that they are in pain, the Salesians feel that these allegations took place so many years ago,” said Seth Taube of McCarter and English.
But the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Marcia Goffin, said, “We want to ensure that the defendants over whom they still have authority no longer deal with kids. And we want the Salesians to recognize what happened to our clients.” The suit seeks an unspecified amount of damages.
The abuse allegedly occurred at the Salesians’ junior seminary in Goshen. The four men say they were repeatedly sexually molested while living at the seminary between 1969 and 1973.
One plaintiff, Joseph Lemme of Monmouth County, N.J., said the Rev. Emilio Allue, then the seminary director, dismissed Lemme from the seminary when he heard of the abuse, saying Lemme “was not priest material.”
Allue is now an auxiliary bishop in Boston. He is not a defendant in the case, which names the Roman Catholic order and two top officials of its New Rochelle-based eastern province.