NEW YORK (ChurchMilitant.com) - A longtime Bronx priest is under investigation for allegedly molesting several young boys.
According to a statement released Thursday by the archdiocese of New York, the Rev. Richard Gorman has been accused of sexually abusing several minors nearly three decades ago. Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling reports at least two purported victims have come forward, and investigators are planning on speaking with a possible third accuser.
In light of an ongoing investigation by the Westchester County district attorney, the archdiocese has suspended Fr. Gorman's faculties as part of the clergy. The official newspaper for the archdiocese, Catholic New York, notes that while law enforcement has "deemed the allegations to be credible," they have "not yet been substantiated." They confirm that Fr. Gorman is "not permitted to publicly function as a priest until the matter is resolved."
The abuses allegedly took place in the 1980s while Fr. Gorman was pastor of St. Barnabas Church in the Woodlawn section of the Bronx, says Michael Reck, a lawyer representing one of the victims. "[The alleged victim] decided to come forward now because he was at a stage of his life where he was aware of the trauma and realized the perpetrator could still access children," Reck said.
His client alleges that when he was 13 years old, Fr. Gorman "transported him to another church-owned facility, and that's where that incident of abuse occurred." Mr. Reck maintains the abuse only happened once to that specific victim, but the ongoing investigation has since "unearthed additional survivors and witnesses."
Father Gorman's attorney is calling any and all accusations of sexual abuse "unfounded."
"I'm convinced that these allegations are not of a criminal nature at this juncture," says lawyer Murray Richman. "He's done a lot of good for people. It's a real shame." Richman added that he and Fr. Gorman have been friends for several years and described Fr. Gorman as an "exceptionally decent, good man."
The priest himself is also denying the accusations.
Father Gorman had long been active within the Bronx, both as a religious and political leader. He acted as the director of prison chaplains for the archdiocese of New York as well as chairman of Community Board 12 in the Bronx since the late 1980s, a position he also resigned from Thursday.
"A lot of people are in disbelief," remarked George Torres, the district manager, calling the situation "a little surreal."
As community board chairman, Fr. Gorman actively fought against allowing strip clubs and adult businesses to operate within the area. Additionally, Fr. Gorman led a crusade to clean up local industrial waste dumps.
The news of the accusations against Fr. Gorman come a week after a New Jersey priest was also accused of molesting two teenagers in the early 1980s. Father Michael Walters of Our Lady of Sorrows Church in South Orange has been suspended from publicly performing his priestly faculties while the investigation proceeds.