NY Bishop Must Testify on Clerical Sex Abuse, Cover-Up

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by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 12, 2020   

Bp. Clark's dementia ruled inadequate for avoiding deposition

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A retired bishop in Upstate New York must provide thirty-three years of inside knowledge on the history of clergy sex abuse in his diocese despite his attorneys attempt to preclude his testimony due to early dementia. 

Once hailed by the dissident pro-LGBT group New Ways Ministry for being "a longtime supporter of LGBT people in the Catholic Church," Bp. Emeritus Matthew Clark of the Rochester diocese must provide testimony regardless of his medical condition. 

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has reported that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren ruled on Tuesday Clark must testify regarding his knowledge of clergy sex abuse despite having early-stage Alzheimer's.

Lawyers representing Clark and the diocese had argued the bishop's early-stage Alzheimer's should preclude him from testifying, especially since other diocesan officials would be able to answer questions of clergy sex abuse more efficiently.  

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Dr. Anthony M. Maroldo, Clark's neurologist, tried to explain the situation in a letter provided to the court by Clark's lawyer, Mary Jo S. Korona. 

"His memory impairment limits his ability to assimilate and recall information presented in lengthy or complex questions and his ability to recall past events. His language impairment limits his ability to formulate clear, cogent and reliable responses to such questions," Maroldo wrote in the letter.

Lawyers for victims of clergy sex abuse argued the letter did not specify Clark is incapable of testifying and they pushed for a deposition now before Clark's dementia worsens. 

But lawyers for victims of clergy sex abuse argued the letter did not specify Clark is incapable of testifying and they pushed for a deposition now before Clark's dementia worsens. 

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Dr. Anthony M. Maroldo

Judge Warren agreed and ruled Clark must testify in the next 30 days.

"This is going to start and stop in one day. This will not go one minute beyond three hours," said the judge, shortening the length of the deposition, as the victims' lawyers had sought at least seven hours to interrogate Clark.

The judge further ruled Clark must hand over notes, letters or any written records containing information regarding the history of clergy sex abuse in the diocese.

Stephen Donato, the diocese's lawyer, said a company in India is now reviewing "thousands and thousands" of such documents to edit sensitive information such as victims' names. He speculated the work should be done in "a few more weeks."

Victims' lawyers need as much information as possible on the history of clergy sex abuse to obtain adequate compensation for their clients as part of the diocese's bankruptcy reorganization settlement. 

Going into effect in New York Aug. 14, 2019, the Child Victims Act opened the door for dozens of alleged clergy sex-abuse victims to sue the diocese of Rochester, forcing the diocese to file bankruptcy. 

The 32-page, Chapter 11 filing shows that the diocese estimated that its liabilities outweigh its assets, with estimated:

  • Assets of $50–$100 million

  • Liabilities of $100–$500 million

  • Creditors against the diocese between 200 to 999.

The judge ruled only one of the lawyers for the victims, Clark's personal lawyer, one diocesan lawyer and any necessary medical aides may be present for the deposition. 

He also forbade the making of any video or audio recordings of the deposition but allowed only a transcript, which will ultimately appear on the bankruptcy court docket as a matter of public record.  

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