The number of women alleging they were abused as children by a Catholic priest in Queens has swelled to 23, the Daily News has learned.
The accusers of former Rev. Adam Prochaski, ranging in age from 39 to 57, say the priest abused them in the Holy Cross parish in Maspeth between 1972 and 1994. The women were between 11 to 16 years old when the abuse allegedly took place.
Mitchell Garabedian, their lawyer, said he’s been contacted by women now living in six states, as well as Canada and London. When he first came forward with the allegations, there were 15 accusers.
“Many of them claim he abused them for years in the school, the church, the rectory, and some were abused in his car,” Garabedian said.
“The police are investigating this matter. I have forwarded many of my clients’ names to them and I am informed they are interviewing my clients.”
Diocese of Brooklyn spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad said the growing number of accusers is “terrible.”
“Anytime there is news of another survivor, it is devastating to the diocese, the clergy, the faithful,” she said.
“It is important for people to know that while the allegations against Prochaski are surfacing for the first time, all of the alleged incidents coming to light took place decades ago and before sweeping reform was implemented to ensure the protection of children and the prosecution of perpetrators.”
Garabedian was portrayed by the actor Stanley Tucci in the Oscar-winning 2015 film “Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Boston.
The Brooklyn Diocese created a fund this year for alleged victims of sexual abuse. It has said that according to records, two women came forward to report Prochaski in 1994. Those complaints were not turned over to authorities until 2002 and 2003.
The Queens district attorney’s office told the Daily News it investigated a range of allegations against multiple priests referred to it by the church in 2002.
“The allegations were reviewed by the experienced career prosecutors of our Special Victims Bureau,” said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
“Unfortunately, all of the allegations dated back many years — even decades — and therefore were not prosecutable within the statute of limitations.”
Garabedian said many of the alleged victims are first-generation Polish immigrants.
Prochaski had a program of bringing in young women from Poland, according to several people familiar with his work.
The diocese said Prochaski was suspended in 1994 after two women made allegations against him. He left the priesthood in 1995.
However, the official Catholic directory shows he was absent on sick leave or other leave from 1994 through 2002. Garabedian said that suggests the church was protecting him.
“The question remains, where were the supervisors, and why weren’t they protecting the children?” Garabedian said.
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