Former NY bishop admits to cover up of sexual abuse allegations against priests


A former bishop at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany admitted to covering up sexual abuse by priests for decades.

Former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard ran the state capital’s diocese for 37 years from 1977 to 2014, and recently answered a series of questions from The Times Union regarding sexual abuse cases.

“When an allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest was received in the 1970s and 1980s, the common practice in the Albany diocese and elsewhere was to remove the priest from ministry temporarily and send him for counseling and treatment,” Hubbard said in a statement through his attorney. 

“Only when a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist determined the priest was capable of returning to ministry without reoffending did we consider placing the priest back in ministry. The professional advice we received was well-intended but flawed, and I deeply regret that we followed it,” he added.

The outlet said Hubbard’s statement was not sanctioned by the diocese.

The admission comes as Hubbard himself is involved in multiple court cases where he is accused of sexually abusing a minor or covering up sexual abuse cases for other priests.

When the Times Union asked Hubbard about allegations that he covered up abuse in the church, Hubbard told the outlet he has always tried to fight against misconduct. He said he supported background checks of clergymen and compensation for those who have been abused by the church.

A spokesperson from the diocese told the newspaper that they take allegations about sexual abuse of minors very seriously. 

“While we cannot offer detailed information on historic events that occurred long before Bishop (Edward) Scharfenberger arrived in the diocese, we can with absolute conviction say that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany takes all allegations of abuse seriously and remains committed to uncovering the truth without fear or favor,” the diocese’s spokeswoman, Mary DeTurris Poust, told The Hill. 

“Our first concern is for survivors. We stand ready to accompany them, support them, and assist them, and we commend them for their bravery in coming forward,” she added.

The Hill has reached out to Hubbard’s attorney for comment. 

Updated 9:21 p.m.

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