Forum Photo by Michael V. Cusenza
The Rev. With served at Our Lady of the Cenacle on 87th Avenue 1972-1976.
By Michael V. Cusenza
The law firm spearheading sexual abuse claims against Catholic priests recently filed 36 new lawsuits against the Diocese of Brooklyn, including one regarding a reverend who served at a Richmond Hill church in the 1970s—though diocesan investigators have called the particular allegation “not credible.”
Jeff Anderson & Associates last Wednesday filed a total of 90 suits against the Diocese of Brooklyn, which serves both Brooklyn and Queens, and the Archdiocese of New York. The date—Aug. 14—is significant because it marked the first day that the one-year window provision of the New York Child Victims Act took effect. According to the CVA, beginning Aug. 14, 2019, survivors over the age of 23 will be able to utilize a one-year window, known as the “look back” period, to file a civil lawsuit against perpetrators or institutions regardless of when the offense took place.
“Today, we stand with victims who were sexually abused as children. We have reached this point because too many victims all across society have sadly carried this heavy cross for far too long,” said the Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. “Sexual abuse is a heinous crime, and victim-survivors now have a new avenue to seek redress through the Child Victims Act.”
Among the 36 DOB lawsuits registered last week is an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back to the 1970s against the Rev. William With, pastor at Resurrection Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn since 2004. According to the firm and the diocese, the reported abuse allegedly took place 1972-1975 at Our Lady of the Cenacle Roman Catholic Church on 87th Avenue. With, who was ordained in 1972, served at the Richmond Hill parish 1972-1976.
According to DOB, the allegation against With was formally reported to the diocese through the Independent Reporting Line on March 29, 2018. On that same day, it was reported to law enforcement. The diocese informed With of the allegation and an investigation began.
The Diocesan Review Board recently presented its findings and has determined there was “insufficient evidence” to substantiate that the claim against With was credible. Their investigation found no corroboration with what the victim alleged.
The diocese noted that prior to this accusation, there has never been any allegation of misconduct in With’s 47 years of service. A letter was read to parishioners at Resurrection Roman Catholic Church earlier this month informing them of the conclusion of the investigation.
In February, the diocese released its list of 108 members of the clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexual abuse of a minor. By credible, diocesan officials believe that the allegations may be true. The list spans the 166-year history of the diocese, and features the names of priests who were assigned to such borough Catholic education institutions as Archbishop Molloy High School, St. Francis Preparatory School, and Christ the King High School; and Queens parishes, including St. Helen in Howard Beach, St. Camillus in Rockaway Beach, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ozone Park.