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Former Iona College President Brother James Liguori Named in Child Sex Abuse Suit

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Former Iona College President Brother James Liguori Named in Child Sex Abuse Suit

July 19, 2012 - 20:24
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Brother+Ligouri A California man has filed a lawsuit claiming he was sexually abused by Brother James A. Liguori, C.F.C., Ed.D in 1969 when the boy at a Cardinal Farley Military Academy in in Rhinebeck, N.Y. The school was run by the Irish Christian Brothers, a New Rochelle-based Catholic religious order.

Brother Liguori is a member of the Irish Christian Brothers. For 17 years, up until 2011, he served as President of Iona College. He is currently an Associate Vice President at Fordham University where he serves as the Executive Director for Westchester. Fordham is a Catholic University run by the The Society of Jesus, the order of Jesuit priests.

According to a press statement issued by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an independent, confidential network of survivors of religious sexual abuse and their supporters, the man reported his abuse to church officials in Orange County, CA in 2008. Catholic staffers, including Bishop Tod Brown, met with him and, in emails, a lawyer for the diocese said that she believed his allegations.

The Irish Christian Brothers, however, claimed that the allegations were "without merit" and took no action against Liguori who was, at the time, of the victim’s report, the president of Iona College in New Rochelle.

The Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America issued a statement:

In his 52 years of service in the order, there was one claim filed against him in 2008. This allegation was swiftly and thoroughly investigated by an external agency, which found the allegation to be unsubstantiated due to major inconsistencies -- including witnesses, whom the complainant provided to investigators and said would corroborate his allegation, who did not corroborate the allegation. An independent external review board accepted the report of the outside investigator and, because the allegation was determined to be unsubstantiated, did not require him to be removed from ministry. As for the apparent allegations circulating on the Internet, we have not seen this claim and therefore cannot comment.

Iona College has issued a statement:

Through an Internet posting, we recently learned of a lawsuit alleging child abuse by former President, Brother James A. Liguori whose employment at the College concluded on September 26, 2011. The College has not seen the lawsuit and therefore cannot comment at this time; instead, it refers questions about the suit to the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America. Our heartfelt sympathy and prayers are in support of any victim of sex abuse and their family.

Iona College, founded in the tradition of the Blessed Edmund Rice, has been independent since 1947. The College is not part of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers North America and is in no way connected to their bankruptcy filing and related allegations.

Talk of the Sound has obtained a copy of two letters from 2008, one sent to Brother Liguori and the other sent to President of the Board of Trustees of Iona College:

July 5, 2008

James A. Liguori, C.F.C., Ed.D.
President, Iona College
715 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Dear Br. Liguori:

I am writing to report that our agency, which provides assistance to survivors of clergy and religious abuse, has been contacted by a gentleman who claims to have been sexually abused by you in the 1960’s. I am in receipt of the victim’s memorandum and statement.

The abuse is alleged to have occurred at Cardinal Farley Military Academy in Dutchess County, New York, when the survivor was a student and you were residing in a student dormitory. Evidently, the Christian Brothers have judged the survivor’s story to be credible enough to send a private investigator to interview him.

I, too, have had extensive conversations with the survivor, and my experience indicates that the victim is credible. I am sure you have been apprised of this action, and my sources advise me that you are refusing to be interviewed on advice of counsel.

I would ask you to step down as President of Iona College while the credible allegations of the survivor are investigated. The student body of Iona College is not safe as long as its leader is an alleged sexual abuser of minors.

I urge your immediate action regarding this matter.

Sincerely,

Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.
Founder and President

CC: Br. Hugh O’Neill, CFC, North American Province Leader
Rev. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D., Co-Founder of “Road to Recovery”

July 5, 2008

Patrick J. Lynch
President, Board of Trustees
Iona College
715 North Avenue
New Rochelle, NY 10801

Dear Mr. Lynch:

I am writing to provide you with a copy of a letter I have forwarded to Iona’s President, James A. Liguori, C.F.C., Ed.D. It concerns allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against Br. Liguori. Our agency provides assistance to those who have been sexually abused by clergy and religious. The victim was a student at Cardinal Farley Military Academy in Dutchess County, New York when the alleged abuse occurred, and Br. Liguori was stationed there at the time.

The gentleman who has made the allegations against James Liguori has contacted “Road to Recovery” and we are providing him support. It is our recommendation to the Board of Trustees of Iona College that Br. Liguori be relieved of his duties immediately pending the results of the investigation being carried out by the Christian Brothers and its private investigator.

In addition, our agency is working with a man who alleges abuse by Br. John J. O’Connor, C.F.C., Ed.D. The victim alleges that he was sexually abused by O’Connor at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, New York, many years ago. Br. O’Connor supposedly has been removed from ministry by the Christian Brothers, but he continues to be listed as a member of the Board of Trustees of Iona College. Our recommendation is that Br. O’Connor be removed as a trustee in concert with his “removal” by the Christian Brothers.

Road to Recovery, Inc. serving hundreds of survivors of clergy and religious sexual abuse, urges your immediate action regarding these matters.

Sincerely,

Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., Iona ‘75
Founder and President

CC: Br. Hugh O’Neill, North American Province Leader
Rev. Kenneth E. Lasch, J.C.D., Co-Founder of “Road to Recovery, Inc.”

"It's not often that church officials come out and say that they believe a victim," said Joelle Casteix, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), the nation's largest support group for men and women sexually abused as children in religious and institutional settings. "But then to have the Irish Christian Brothers instantly claim the allegations were without merit and refuse to reach out to other potential victims is reckless and callous."

Last year, the Irish Christian Brothers declared bankruptcy in light of more than 50 child sex abuse lawsuits in the United States and more than 200 in Canada. http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Mounting-sexual-abuse-claims-causes-US-.... The order has also been rocked by sex abuse scandals in Ireland.

In January, the New York Bankruptcy Court set a "bar date" of August 1, 2012, for all victims of Irish Brother predators to expose their abusers in court. After that, many victims of the Irish Christian Brothers will no longer have rights in the courts. Doe came forward and filed his sex abuse claim as part of this bankruptcy.

Liguori was the president of Iona College for 17 years. Before that, he was the school’s executive vice president, the principal of Rice High School in Harlem, headmaster of Iona Prep, associate superintendent of schools in the New York Archdiocese and the superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Newark. http://www.cny.org/stories/Brother-Liguori-Retiring-as-Iona-President-Le....

SNAP wants the Irish Christian Brothers to reach out to alums from every school where Liguori and other accused clerics taught and help other potential victims. before the August 1 deadline.

In 2010, Sister Marie Thornton, a nun and the school’s vice president of finance for the school, embezzled more than $800,000 from Iona. Liguori and school officials did not call law enforcement to report the matter. The incident came to light through reporting by Talk of the Sound and the Chronicle for Higher Education.

There are 12 Comments

Let's hope that every person who saw, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and misdeeds by Brother James A. Liguori, will find the courage and strength to speak up, call police.

Keep in mind that child predators rarely have only one victim. And your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. [email protected],
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,) is the worlds oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims.
SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 12,000 members. Despite the word priest in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers and increasingly, victims who were assaulted in a wide range of institutional settings like summer camps, athletic programs, Boy Scouts, etc.

Judy Jones has already deemed Br. Liguori guilty. She has no facts and was not there. Right now, it is just one person's opinion of what happened against another's. The alleged victim apparently never went to police and never brought a civil action, and it is too late to do so now. Now, 5 decades later, this person makes the claim by raising it in the Irish Christian Brothers bankruptcy action, and it is only a claim to get more money for therapy by the alleged victim. Because the victim waited about 50 years to raise this claim, we may never know what really happened. But one thing for sure, I am not going to start throwing stones at Br. Liguori on only a mere allegation - like the very irresponsible Judy Jones.

Robert Cox's picture

UPDATE: Talk of the Sound has obtained a copy of two letters sent to Iona College in 2008 in which the original claim was made against Br. Liquori and a second man, Br. O'Connor who was then serving on the Iona College Board of Trustees. The bankruptcy filing took place in 2011 and the deadline for filing claims was set for August 1, 2012.

She hasn't as far as I can tell come out and passed judgment on Brother Ligouri. Believe she simply is making reference to SNAP. If she has made a judgment then you are correct in indicating it would be rash.

I believe that Iona was not part of the defendent's suit but will check further. Apparently there are different and seemingly independent constituents of the Irish Christian Brothers.

Sexual abuse of children is horrendous; it scars them for life and weakens the fabric of any church. Each case cuts to the bone of belief. And each accusation runs the gamut from cruel violation of a child's innocence all the way to the opposite end that being opportunism on the part of someone seeking some payment of a kind.

I have private thoughts as do all readers, but I will certainly agree that Ligouri and all defendents deserve the basic presumption of innocence until and if demonstrated otherwise.

I think Ms. Jones would agree.

The world proceeds on the path of becoming uglier by the day. Let's hope this particular situation is clarified quickly.

in the case of the Catholic Church and their priests, the burden of proof is on them to prove one of their own is not a pedophile.

If he runs off to Rome to work for da Pope, voila.

Hey, good to hear from you. Here is what I am saying. I have my own thoughts about Ligouri, the Church as it stands now, and even the specifics of the time taken for this latest filing.

That said, I cannot be wrong in what I am saying unless I am supporting a system opposite our rule of law. If I did, it would place me elsewhere like in Afghanistan.

all I have said is that Ligouri deserves his day in court and is innocent until proven otherwise.

No more, no less.

Many child protection advocates don't understand why SNAP President, Barbara Blaine, is sending a mixed message to children who are sexually abused and exploited by the violence of child pornography. Three years ago, Blaine wrote a letter to the Louisiana Medical Board in which she praised Dr. Steve Taylor of New Orleans, who had been arrested for possession of 107 sexually exlicit images of children on his computer. Taylor and his wife helped co-found SNAP in new Orleans. Taylor pled guilty and is now serving two years in prison. When pornographic images are viewed by others, the children depicted are victimized once again.

He was allowed to reign for 17 years before someone found out he was a pervert?

Tsk, tsk.

Hey, he can always go work for da Pope, he loves pedophiles.

What a sad day for many families who were proud to say they attended Iona Prep and Iona College! If this is true - it is yet another example of a sick individual who abused his power! As the Catholic mother of two sons I will never allow either of my boys to be in close contact with any member of the clergy; what a sad, sad world we live in.

I don't carry a brief for the Catholic Church, Iona or any religious clergy, but when did it become an American value (never mind a Christian one) to convict someone of a crime by insinuation, as you have done here, before the accused has had his right to face and examine his accuser?

With principles like this taught at home to your two precious sons, the least of their problems in life are going to be contacts with the clergy.

I think what is "sad, sad" is that Anonymous 72877
seems to have convicted Brother Liguori already.

Let me tell you about Brother James Liguori. He was my Head Master at Iona Prep while I was there between 1979-1983. In addition to being extremely intelligent, inspiring, friendly and an all-around good person, he was loved and respected by EVERYONE.
To this day, I often think about what a great example he was (to all we students)of the man we would like to become.
FURTHERMORE, I was alone with him on MANY, MANY occasions and there was never a HINT of anything inappropriate from him. Brother Liguori had my FULL confidence and trust. I was as naive as any young
teenager and could have been easily lured into compromising positions. I never was. I played squash with him, ate meals with him and went camping with him and my brother for a weekend over the summer, circa 1982. Again, never a HINT of anything inappropriate. We were as close as any friends could be, always with the appropriate boundary that we was my teacher and I his student.
My closest friend from highschool was also a close friend of Brother Liguori's and has remained so over the years.
I could go on and on....
I just urge people to NOT let ONE allegation made after 50 years (an entire LIFE!) by someone to trash the career and reputation of such a giant in the field of education.
James Liguori will always be a good man and exemplary educator in my book.
James M. Doyle, MD
Iona Prep Class of 1983

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