Diocese of Ogdensburg named in new child sex abuse lawsuit

Updated: Jun. 16, 2020 at 2:55 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - There are new allegations of child sexual abuse being leveled against the Diocese of Ogdensburg. However, the accused priest is not on the diocese’s list of offenders.

New litigation has been brought against the Diocese of Ogdensburg. That's according to documents filed in Clinton County on June 8.

The filings claim Monsignor John M. Waterhouse sexually abused the plaintiff listed as Anonymous GF from 1973 to 1978.

Documents say the plaintiff was between the ages of 10 and 15 at the time.

The alleged abuse occurred at St. Joseph's Church of West Chazy, in Clinton County, where Anonymous GF was an altar boy.

One of the plaintiff's lawyers, Patrick Noaker, alleges there were many instances of abuse.

“There were dozens and dozens of times that he was sexually assaulted during that period. It was a lengthy period of time, from ’73 to ’78, so it’s five years. And he was abused, unfortunately, often,” said Noaker, Noaker Law Firm.

The lawsuit is the 30th against the diocese, according to officials there.

And it's filed under the New York Child Victims Act.

The legislation enacted in August last year gives survivors of child sexual abuse a one-year window to file a lawsuit, no matter how long ago the abuse happened.

Diocese of Ogdensburg Communications Director Darcy Fargo says they can't comment on pending litigation.

But she says Monsignor Waterhouse, who died in 1995, doesn’t appear on the diocese’s list of offending priests.

"Any priest who has a substantiated allegation of abuse is listed on our offender priest list on our website. And, he is not on that list," said Fargo.

Noaker says there were other priests at the church when the alleged abuse took place who should have been aware.

"He would have this boy over to his living quarters in the rectory and sexually abuse him there. There was another priest that lived in the rectory. He also isolated the altar boys individually a lot. That's another red flag. They did have another priest on site, that should have seen or at least had some sense, 'Hey, something isn't right here,'" said Noaker.

Fargo says the Diocese of Ogdesnburg takes allegations of abuse seriously.

"Any allegation of abuse is a bad thing. Any incident of abuse is a bad thing. But again, we don't comment further on pending litigation and we're just hoping that the process works through fairly and justice is served," she said.

Noaker says filing a lawsuit isn't necessarily an attack on the diocese.

"Filing a lawsuit is not a declaration of war necessarily. This is this guy's attempt in a structured way to really see some reform, see some change that will protect kids," he said.

Noaker says information he’s received has him and Anonymous GF concerned there could be more victims of Monsignor Waterhouse’s alleged abuse.

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