The Diocese of Brooklyn categorically denies the allegations made today by Jeff Anderson. He is well aware of the actions taken by the Diocese of Brooklyn with respect to Monsignor Otto Garcia, yet he is making sensational misrepresentations in order to garner media attention.
To clarify the details around Msgr. Garcia:
- July 25, 2017 – we learned of the allegation against Msgr. Garcia by Thomas Davis
- July 28, 2017 – allegation was called into the reporting line. Law enforcement was notified that same day, and an investigation began.
On November 29, 2017, the Diocesan Review Board, chaired by Joseph Esposito, a retired NYPD Chief of Department and former Commissioner of the New York City Office of Emergency Management, informed the Bishop that based on their review of the findings of the investigators, they unanimously determined the allegation to be not credible. The board determined that there was a lack of evidence to substantiate the allegations against Monsignor Garcia.
The Diocesan Review Board is composed of nine voting members, including lawyers with experience in family law and child abuse, healthcare professionals, mental health professionals, a survivor of clergy abuse and a pastor. Here is a video on how the Diocesan Review Board handles investigations of allegations of clergy sexual abuse.
As to the second lawsuit filed against Msgr. Garcia by Jeff Anderson, law enforcement will be notified, and an investigation will begin once we have sufficient information to do so. If that allegation were to be found credible, the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Zero Tolerance Policy is very clear. If any clergy member is found to be credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor, he is permanently removed from ministry.
The Diocese of Brooklyn works to eradicate sexual abuse every day, and we take issue with Mr. Anderson’s claims that we have swept this case under the rug. We held a town hall meeting with parents at St. Joan of Arc School and heard their concerns. Msgr. Garcia chose to step down as pastor, a position which he had held for 12 years at St. Joan of Arc. Though he is eligible to retire, Msgr. Garcia is continuing to minister as a parochial vicar at St. Teresa in Woodside. Garcia’s new assignment was published in our diocesan newspaper, The Tablet.
Sexual abuse of a minor is a horrendous crime that has hurt children in our Church and in society as a whole. The Diocese of Brooklyn takes all allegations of sexual abuse seriously. On the ten new cases filed today, we are just learning about them and need to carefully review the allegations made in these lawsuits. But you will see four priests are already on the list we published of credibly accused priests in February.https://dioceseofbrooklyn.org/sex-abuse-crisis-response/list/ Four lawsuits involve religious brothers, who are under the direction of their respective religious superiors. One is a lay person.
The Diocese of Brooklyn has apologized to victims who have suffered due to sexual abuse by clergy. And we have instituted the most aggressive policies when it comes to child protection. The Diocese conducts initial and ongoing background checks of all employees and volunteers and requires age-appropriate sexual abuse awareness training for children and any adults who work with children.
We have worked with about 500 victim-survivors through our Independent Reconciliation and Compensation program. We offer various survivor support groups and a yearly Mass of Hope and Healing. Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has personally met with victim-survivors to hear about their traumatic experiences.
The Bishop has also been pro-active on the subject, holding listening sessions with parishioners across the diocese where they have had the opportunity to meet with lay officials, two of which are women and mothers, who play pivotal roles in dealing with the sexual abuse crisis.
Jeff Anderson is trying these cases in the press, and his motivation is clear. As noted by Marci Hamilton in an op-ed in the New York Daily News “When victims call the mass tort attorneys, they are typically told that the firm is not interested in cases that don’t involve large institutions, like the Catholic Church.”
For nearly twenty years, the Diocese of Brooklyn has sought to make our Churches and schools the safest places for children and at the same time acknowledged the failures of the past. Over these years, we have sought to express our deep contrition and sorrow for the evil crimes committed by some members of our Church. Today and every day, we stand with victim-survivors on their journey toward healing.