OSWEGO — The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse on Monday released a list of 57 priests accused of sexual misconduct against children including nine former Oswego County clergy and former Oswego Catholic High School principals.
Oswego priests implicated in credible allegations of child sexual abuse by the Diocese of Syracuse are: Daniel W. Casey, Jr.; Francis J. Furfaro; John F. Harrold; James C. Hayes; William A. Lorenz; Chester Misercola; Thomas E. Neary, Jr.; Albert J. Proud and John M. Zeder.
“We certainly can say the church didn’t handle this well, at all,” said Diocesean spokesperson Danielle Cummings. “We are taking measures to change things. We certainly have learned from the huge mistakes that have taken place in the past. And this is just one more step in saying, ‘Let’s get this out there. Let’s work on this.’”
Cummings acknowledged that the list is “devastating news” to many of the faithful.
“When people look at this list and see that this was a pastor who baptized their child, or helped their grandfather when they were sick, it’s horrendous,” she said. “It’s time for Bishop Cunningham to say, ‘Here it is. Here’s the list.’”
The Bishop has filed for retirement, as Catholic canon requires non-cardinal bishops to submit their resignation upon turning 75 pending Vatican approval. Pope Francis announced in February that some Vatican bishops may serve past the age of 75 but there’s no far been no word on whether this applies to American bishops.
Jeff Anderson and Associates, a St. Paul, Minn. law firm, released the names of ten accused Oswego Catholic officials earlier this year but the Syracuse Diocese has stated that Father Thomas Trane — accused of child sexual abuse at a parish school in Oswego in the late 1980s — had no affiliation with them.
“Today’s disclosure is a vital and necessary step toward healing and accountability,” said Attorney Mike Reck of Jeff Anderson & Associates on Monday. Reck and Anderson represents several sexual abuse survivors in the Diocese of Syracuse.
Four of the nine clergy on the Diocesean list are listed as deceased.
Father Daniel W. Casey Jr. died in 2000 after two civil lawsuits filed in 1992 alleged that he sexually abused three children in the 1980s. The Diocese settled both lawsuits.
Thomas E. Neary, Jr. died in 2001 and was accused in 2003 of sexually abusing a man when the man was a child. According to attorneys, others came forward after Neary’s death as well.
Father John M. Zeder is listed in the Diocesean report as deceased. In 2003, a woman filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Zeder raped her between the years of 1978 and 1981. That same year, the Diocese of Syracuse stated that he had been permanently removed from ministry due to a credible allegation of child sexual abuse.
Francis J. Furfaro, one of Oswego’s most notorious clergy child sex abusers, died in 2010. Furfaro served at St. Joseph in Oswego from 1950 until 1991. He served as the Oswego County Correctional Facility chaplain from 1984 to 2001. Furfaro was permanently removed from ministry in 2003 due to credible allegations of child sexual abuse. Furfaro reportedly had unfettered access to children, including overnight trips at campgrounds.
Living priests in the report include Chester Misercola and James C. Hayes, who was principal of Oswego Catholic High School from 1974 to 1976 and was assistant superintendent in Oswego County in 1977. Hayes worked at Bishop Cunningham Catholic High School from 1977 to 1978 and at a parish in Fulton from 1989 to 1991. Hayes was removed from his parish assignment in 2002 in the wake of an allegation of inappropriate behavior. He was permanently removed in 2003.
Misercola was also permanently removed from ministry in 2003 after a civil lawsuit was filed. As with Hayes Misercola’s whereabouts are listed as unknown. Misercola worked at Oswego Catholic High from 1973 to 1976 and at Bishop Cunningham Catholic High School in Oswego 1977 to 1992 and served in other posts.
Father John F. Harrold served as clergy at St. Mary’s in Oswego from 1981 to 1982. Harrold was arrested in 1983 for sending child pornography through the mail but criminal charges were dropped after he entered a “treatment center.”
Harrold went to Servants of the Paraclete in 1984, a congregation in New Mexico where priests and monks accused of sexual misconduct were shipped and often defrocked. The congregation has been mostly closed since the mid-1990s. Harrold resigned from the priesthood in 1997 and has been listed as “whereabouts unknown” since 2004.
William A. Lorenz admitted to child sexual abuse in 2002 and was permanently laicized in 2003. He worked at St. Mary, St. Paul and Oswego Catholic High School from 1973 to 1976. Like Hayes, he also worked in the school system as principal of Bishop Cunningham Catholic High School from 1977 to 1979, and served as assistant superintendent for Oswego County 1979. Lorenz’s location is also listed as “unknown.”
Albert J. Proud briefly worked as clergy at St. John the Evangelist in Oswego in 1970. In 2002, he was removed from the ministry 2002 and sent to a “treatment center” after accusations surfaced of child sexual abuse. Proud was also permanently ousted from the church in 2003, and is also listed as “whereabouts unknown” since 2004.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse is comprised of seven counties in Central New York (Onondaga, Oswego, Oneida, Madison, Cortland, Tompkins, Broome) and oversees 133 parishes, 24 schools and 257 priests, according to the report.