ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Former Bishop Howard Hubbard has been accused of sexually abusing a teenager in the 1990s.
The lawsuit alleges Hubbard along with Father Paul Bondi used their positions within the diocese to “groom and sexually” abuse a teenage boy.
On Friday, Hubbard issued the following statement:
When I retired as Bishop of the Diocese of Albany five years ago, I put my name on the list of retired priests who help out as needed in our parishes. For the last five years, I have had the privilege of celebrating Mass and presiding at weddings, baptisms, confirmations, graduations and funerals at parishes in every corner of our Diocese. This opportunity for continued service to our people has been a spiritual joy for me
Earlier this week, I was publicly accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a minor in the 1990s. With full and complete confidence, I can say this allegation is false. 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 the meantime, I will temporarily step aside from my public ministry. This is a profoundly painful step: I have been a priest for 55 years. My ministry is my life. But stepping aside temporarily now is the right thing to do. Our people and our broader community must be assured that our church leaders, active or retired, and indeed all clergy are living in accord with the highest standards that our sacred ministry requires.
With humility, I have advised Bishop Scharfenberger that I will take a voluntary leave of absence until this matter is resolved.
A statement by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany:
All of us in the Diocese of Albany — and in the Church worldwide — will face challenges in the months ahead and may even become dispirited as revelations of sexual abuse come forward in light of the Child Victims Act. Although we cannot know the extent of what is before us, we do know that we will be a different Church when this process is over, but we will be a better Church because of it. The truth is the only way through this, and the truth will set us free. We admire the bravery of those who have come forward to share their stories of betrayal and pain to help other survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
Experts tell us that the publicity that will surround the opening of the window for the Child Victims Act could trigger re-traumatization for those who have been sexually abused, and so our focus will be on accompanying survivors and supporting them as they journey toward healing, whether they choose the path of litigation or not. In the coming weeks and months, the Diocese of Albany plans to redouble our existing efforts to bring about reconciliation with survivors. We are a wounded family, and we cannot heal unless and until we care for and walk with those among us who have suffered in silence for so long. Today we take the next steps on this long and necessary path.
The lawsuit is one of hundreds being filed on Wednesday as part of a one year window allowing victims of child sexual abuse to file claims, regardless of when the abuse happens.
The one year window was made possible as part of the Child Victims Act which was signed into law in February.