Four Jesuits accused of sexual abuse spent time in Manhasset

The Inisfada, where three men accused of sexually abusing minors spent time for retreats.

Four men on a list released last week of Jesuits credibly accused of sexual abuse have ties to Manhasset.

One of the men, Joseph Fitzpatrick, was assigned to Saint Mary’s Roman Catholic Church from 1971 to 1983, according to the document published last Tuesday by Jesuits USA Northeast Province.

The list included 50 men who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult since 1950.

In 1999, someone reported that Fitzpatrick abused a minor in the 1980s.

Fitzpatrick, now 85, is currently impeded, meaning he has been removed from Jesuit institutions but is being monitored by authorities within the religious order with no access to minors and limited access to technology and travel, said Mike Gabriele, director of communications for the Jesuits USA Northeast Province.

The province would not provide Fitzpatrick’s contact information.

Saint Mary’s did not respond to requests for comment.

“We keep them in the Jesuits as much as we can so that we can monitor them,” Gabriele said. “If we were to kick them out of the order they could technically go live anywhere they want.”

Three men on the list spent years at Manhasset’s Inisfada, a mansion the Jesuit society used as a retreat house until it was sold in 2013. All three – John Garvey, Edward D. Horgan and Joseph Towle – are dead.

The period of the abuse that Garvey and Towle were later accused of overlaps with their time in Manhasset.

Garvey left Micronesia, where he was assigned to a parish, in 1978 and came to Manhasset that year, where he stayed until 1987.

The incident he was accused of is listed as taking place in 1978-79.

Towle was at Inisfada from 1968 to 1971. In 1992, someone reported that he abused a minor in 1971. He was impeded in 2002 and died in 2016.

Horgan was at Inisfada for retreats from 1983 until 1994, the year that he died. In 2007 he was accused of abuse of a minor that occurred in 1966.

Jesuit retreats – which Manhasset’s Insifada was dedicated toward when Garvey, Horgan and Towle stayed there – can be as brief as a weekend, and involve spiritual exercises intended to bring Jesuits closer to God and Jesus, Gabriele said.

There are seven retreat houses still operating on the East Coast, he added.

Survivors typically do not report abuse until around age 50, said Janet Klinger, who leads a survivors support group in Plainview affiliated with Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

“It’s something people live with most of their lives,” said Klinger, who identified herself as a survivor of abuse within the church. “It takes a toll on their whole life.”

Each of the Jesuits’ five provinces in the country has released a list of credibly accused priests, the first two of which were published Dec. 7.

“At the heart of this crisis is the painful, sinful and illegal harm done to children by those whom they should have been able to trust,” wrote the Rev. John J. Cecero, provincial for the Jesuits’ Northeast Province, in a letter accompanying the release of the list.We did not know any best practices to handle these violations many decades ago and regrettably made mistakes along the way.”

Publishing the lists is an attempt toward transparency and to gain back trust in the church, Gabriele said.

“We talk about transparency but that in itself is a questionable term,” Klinger said. “The orders and the diocese have not been very transparent … so I question that term to begin with. I don’t know how transparent you actually are when you’ve been forced into a position.”

The most recent abuse incident reported in the Northeast Province – which includes New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and northern New Jersey – happened in 1996, according to the province.

The Jesuits have a third party review board that investigates allegations of abuse, Gabriele said. The board includes professionals from mental health, law enforcement and legal fields.

“If there’s a preponderance of truth to the accusation they will deem it as credible probably without the significance of evidence that law enforcement would need,” Gabriele said.

Individuals who report as adults decide whether to also report to the police, he said.

Nassau County police were not immediately able to say whether they received any reports about the four Jesuits who spent time in Manhasset.

Praesidium Inc., which serves as a consultant for organizations that address internal abuse, accredits the Northeast Province.

Survivors can receive pastoral counseling and often compensation, Gabriele said.

The province also has a victim assistance coordinator.

Support groups, such as the one Klinger leads monthly, are an opportunity for survivors to speak with individuals who had similar traumatic experiences, Klinger said.

“These priests usually don’t have one victim,” she said. “They have many, and there are many people out there and they need someplace to go.”

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests was founded in 1988 and has 25,000 members, according to its website. Klinger’s group is the only one on Long Island affiliated with the organization.

Members of the organization in New York have been pushing for the state’s Child Victims Act for years, she said. The drafted legislation’s provisions, which include extending the criminal statute of limitations to 28-year-old survivors and the civil statute to 50-year-old survivors, are important since it is so common for survivors to come forward decades after the abuse occurred, she added.

“It’s not a question of money, it’s a question of validation,” Klinger said. “It’s time. We’ve waited so long for this. It’s time.”

This story was updated Jan. 25. An earlier version said impeded Jesuits have limited access to minors, technology and travel. Impeded Jesuits have no access to minors.

About the author

Teri West

Teri West is a reporter for Blank Slate Media covering Roslyn and Manhasset.
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