A religious leader came forward about relocating multiple New York priests allegedly involved in sexual misconduct to avoid accountability for decades.
Howard Hubbard has confessed to resolving misconduct by relocating priests to different parishes, between 1977 and 2014. The former Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany bishop revealed the practice was common in the past.
“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,” he said according to The Times Union.
After rehabilitation, priests were allowed to return to their usual duties pending approval from a licensed mental health professional.
“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 bishop said according to the paper.
In hindsight, Hubbard believes he committed a sin and should have adopted a different approach.
“The professional advice we received was well-intended but flawed, and I deeply regret that we followed it,” he said according to the New York Post.
The diocese did not corroborate Hubbard’s testimonial. However, his words have arguably raised suspicion the diocese had always covered up for priests with histories of sexual abuse, instead of referring the matter to police.
Hubbard’s remarks came as he faces multiple court cases in which he is accused of sexually abusing minors, or covering up allegations of sexual abuse by other priests.
He allegedly committed seven sexual abuse acts since the year 2019. In March 2021, he was accused of inappropriate misconduct with a then 11-year-old child at a carnival, some 40 years ago.
The former bishop vigorously rejects the historical allegation.
“I know with absolute certainty that I did not abuse him, because I know with absolute certainty that I have never abused a child or an adult, sexually or in any other way,” he said according to the New York Post.
Hubbard still claims he always stood up to wrongdoers, and supports clergy background checks and compensation for those who can prove church workers harmed them.
The Albany diocese was allegedly involved in nearly 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits that list hundreds of child predators and abuses for decades, according to The Times Union.
Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany spokeswoman Mary DeTurris Poust confirmed the diocese will transparently address all sexual abuse allegations.
“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,” she said according to 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.