Plaintiffs claiming sexual abuse from 1960s file civil suits against Diocese of Rockville Centre

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A total of five lawsuits were filed Tuesday against the Diocese of Rockville Centre alleging priest sex abuse from decades ago.

Sheryn Silvestre and Joanne Jack made the allegations in February that they were abused by staff at St. Agnes Parish in the 1960s. Joanne’s brother, Alexander, has now joined the case, alleging that he too was sexually abused.

Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who is representing the three plaintiffs, filed civil complaints that accuse Msgr. John McGann, who would later become bishop of the diocese. It also includes Msgr. Edward Melton, Father Robert L. Brown, and the parish janitor, John Hanlon.

All four men accused are now deceased.

At a news conference held by Garabedian, Joanne Jack said that the “guilt and the shame” prevented her from speaking up about the incident for decades.

Garabedian, who was portrayed in the Academy Award-winning film “Spotlight” in 2015, called out “people who were in authority” for letting the alleged abuse skate by unchecked.

“These were people who were supervisors. These were criminals. Not only are the pedophile priests criminals, but those who cover it up within the church,” he said.

The civil complaints were able to be filed under the newly enacted Child Victims Act in New York state.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Diocese of Rockville Centre said the allegations were reported to law enforcement in February 2019 when it first came to light. It said that they are cooperating with the district attorney and state attorney general.

Read the full response from the Diocese of Rockville Centre:

RELATED STORIES: 
‘Jane Doe’ settles priest sexual abuse lawsuit against Diocese of Rockville Centre 
Residents call for independent investigation into Diocese of Rockville Centre 
Advocates call for release of Diocese of Rockville Centre list of accused clergy 
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Victim: Diocese ‘short-changing’ victims in abuse settlements 

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