NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Two men are accusing an active upper Manhattan priest of abusing them decades ago, and calling on the archdiocese to keep him away from children.
Minnesota-based attorneys Patrick Noaker and Jessica Arbour who work for the group Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse, say their clients, whom they did not name, filed claims with the archdiocese's victim compensation program in September and October. They claim Fr. Lawrence Quinn abused them when he was assigned to a parish in the Bronx throughout the 1990s.
"One boy was an altar boy at Our Lady of Mercy, and the other was trying to become an altar boy," Noaker said. One of the accusers was 5 years old when the alleged abuse began; the other was 12.
Quinn is now assigned to Our Lady Queen of Martyrs in Inwood, which has an elementary school on the property.
"The archdiocese has done nothing to inform these parishioners that there may be a lone wolf in their midst," Arbour said.
WCBS 880's Alex Silverman found Quinn at the rectory, bearded and rumpled. "No," he said, when asked if he was aware of the allegations, but confirmed he was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy from 1983-2002.
"It just came from the clear blue sky, I had no idea. I've never done anything to anybody, man or woman," said Quinn, as he lit a cigarette in his cluttered living room. "I hadn't had any sex since I was born. I shouldn't abuse anybody," he told Silverman. A spokesman for the archdiocese, Joe Zwilling, said there were no previous complaints against Fr. Quinn.
Zwilling would not comment on the specifics of the case, but noted that when the archdiocese receives a claim through the compensation program, it allows the District Attorney an opportunity to investigate the allegation before taking any action against the priest. "We do this at the DA's request, so that they might conduct a proper investigation without the priest or deacon receiving 'advance notice' of the investigation by the archdiocese taking action by removing him from ministry."
The attorneys for the accusers maintain that protecting children from a potential predator should be the top priority.
"We will not stand by and allow more kids to be put at risk, even though it looks like the archdiocese does," said Arbour.
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