Juryselection began Monday Dec. 4 in a $150 million civil lawsuit againstthe Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. Two people are suing,claiming they were molested by a youth minister at St. Raphael RomanCatholic Church in East Meadow for three years.
Theyouth minister, Matthew Maiello, then of Lynbrook, pleaded guilty in2003 to rape and sodomy of the two plaintiffs, a man and a woman whowere 15 at the time of the abuse in 1999, and two others. He servedjust over two years in prison for his crimes. He now lives upstate inGilboa, New York. At the time Maiello was sentenced, his victims saidthey believed his sentence was too lenient. Prosecutors said at thetime that Maiello was punished as severely as possible.
The civiltrial, before State Supreme Court Justice R. Bruce Cozzens Jr., inMineola, is set to call Bishop William Murphy to testify. Murphy wasappointed after the abuse by Maiello, but Michael G. Dowd, ofManhattan, attorney for the victims, says he should be held accountablenow as the leader of the church.
In addition to calling bothplaintiffs, Dowd said he will present videos that Maiello took of theyouths having sex with him and with each other.
Diocese spokesman Sean Dolan said that he could not give a comment on a pending lawsuit.
Observers of the clergy sex abuse scandal say the Maiello civil suit issignificant because it is one of the few church sex abuse lawsuits thatis within the statute of limitations. Other recent cases against theBrooklyn and Syracuse Roman Catholic dioceses were dropped after thestate¹s highest court refused to allow them to proceed.
CarolBongiorno, from the Voice of the Faithful, an advocate group forvictims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse, said in a written statement,³In the four years of its existence, members of the Voice of theFaithful have learned much about the lack of accountability from churchauthorities toward sexual abuse victims and their families.²
³VOTF is working diligently to support the efforts of StateAssemblywoman Margaret Markey and other New York State legislators toextend the statute of limitations for lawsuits like these. We are alsoasking the lawmakers to vote for the opening of a one year ŒWindow ofOpportunity¹ for adult victims who were abused as children, but forwhom the current statute of limitations has expired. It is felt that inadulthood these victims have a better understanding of what effectsexual abuse had on their lives. Changes in these laws will help allvictims of sexual abuse, not just those in the Catholic Church, to seekjustice.²
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