The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany engaged in a decades-long cover-up of chronic child sexual abuse committed by its priests by employing practices described in a recent statement from former Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who ran the diocese from 1977 to 2014.
Hubbard’s statement, issued through his attorney in response to a series of questions from the Times Union, confirmed that the diocese shielded priests and others facing sexual abuse allegations — sending them into private treatment programs rather than contacting law enforcement officials or alerting parishioners. Some of those priests allegedly emerged from treatment and committed more crimes.
“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. “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.”
Hubbard’s response comes as he is facing multiple allegations of sexually abusing a minor, and is named in dozens of additional court cases in which he stands accused of covering up abuse by others. After this story was published online, his attorney sent an email disputing that the practices described in the bishop’s statement amounted to a cover-up.
The bishop’s acknowledgement comes as there have been roughly 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits filed against the Albany diocese, providing an unprecedented window into the organization’s documented history of abuse, as well as the actions of Hubbard.
The cases name hundreds of predators and describe decades of abuse allegedly committed by priests and others who preyed on the children in their care, while using their positions to evade accountability.