On Aug. 16, Bp. Hubbard issued a statement announcing that he will temporarily withdraw from public ministry.
"This is a profoundly painful step," he said. "I have been a priest for 55 years. My ministry is my life. But stepping aside temporarily now is the right thing to do."
The announcement came two days after Hubbard was named in a lawsuit alleging he "used his position as a priest to groom and to sexually abuse" a teenage boy from 1994–1998.
In his statement, the bishop denied the allegation: "I have never sexually abused anyone in my life. I have trust in the canonical and civil legal processes and believe my name will be cleared in due course."
In spite of his claim of innocence, Hubbard remains suspect in the eyes of many observers, who note the suit marks the third time the bishop has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In February 2004, former Albany resident Andrew Zalay publicly accused Hubbard of driving his brother Thomas to suicide by pressuring him into sex.
Zalay explained that he had recently discovered his brother's suicide note, which until then his mother had kept hidden out of shame.
Reportedly, Thomas described being groomed and pressured into sex with the bishop and said Hubbard had tried to justify homosexual acts to him by suggesting the Bible defined celibacy as avoidance of sexual contact with women.
But Thomas rejected the bishop's attempts to excuse the behavior. In his letter, he said that he wanted to get away from Hubbard, and indicated that he felt the only way to escape the bishop's grasp was suicide. On April 19, 1978, Thomas set himself ablaze at his parent's home in Albany.
In response to Zalay's allegation, Hubbard convened a press conference, during which he declared that he had been celibate since his ordination in 1963.
But the bishop's claim was soon countered by allegations involving underage male prostitutes. Former teenage runaway Anthony Bonneau stepped forward alleging that, years earlier, he twice had sex with Hubbard in Washington Park, one of Albany's gay cruising hotspots. Bonneau said he was troubled by Hubbard's denial and, as a convert to Christianity, came forward out of a sense of moral duty to protect other vulnerable minors.
According to whistleblower Fr. John Minkler, during his nearly 40 years as bishop (1977–2014), Hubbard intentionally cultivated an expansive homosexual network inside the diocese of Albany.
In a 1995 letter to New York Cdl. John O'Connor, Fr. Minkler warned that while rejecting spiritually and psychologically healthy young men, "the diocese regularly accepts and ordains seminarians who have been dropped by other dioceses because of their homosexual activity."
Minkler, who later died under mysterious circumstances, named more than a dozen actively homosexual clerics operating in Albany at that time, including multiple parish priests, the diocesan priest-personnel director, the judicial vicar, the chancellor, a vicar general — and Bp. Hubbard himself. He went to describe what he'd been told by various diocesan insiders:
Under Hubbard, the diocese of Albany became a hotbed of homosexuality and a predator's playground. In light of this, the bishop's response to the clerical sex abuse crisis has raised more than a few eyebrows.
In June, 49-year-old Michael Harmon went public with allegations that as a boy, he was repeatedly abused by former diocesan priest Fr. Edward Pratt. After suffering in silence for five years, at age 16, he revealed the abuse to Bp. Hubbard. Reportedly, Hubbard responded by threatening to throw Harmon into jail.
"I told Bishop Hubbard that Father Pratt's been touching me," Harmon told Albany's NewsChannel 13. "I said, 'I need help, I don't know what to do, I need somebody to help,' and that's when he said, '…if I ever hear you again, say anything to anybody I will have you arrested.'"
Only in 2002 — amid the first wave of the clerical sex abuse crisis — did Hubbard remove Fr. Pratt from ministry.
That same year, Hubbard played a dubious role at the U.S. bishops' Dallas meeting on clerical sex abuse.