Rector of New York Minster denies 50-year-old abuse complaint “wholeheartedly”


NEW YORK – Mgr. Robert T. Richie, rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, told cathedral parishioners in an August 3 letter that he had been named in a civil lawsuit alleging that he had “sexually assaulted a child in an opportunity “almost 50 years ago.

“I completely and wholeheartedly deny this allegation,” he wrote. “Nothing like this has ever happened in my 50 years as a priest, nor at any time in my life. I have no doubts that once this matter goes to court, the allegation will be held to be absolutely false. “

The lawsuit was filed under the New York State Child Victims Act, which came into effect in 2020. Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently enacted a bill to extend the time limit for filing lawsuits under the law as of August 14. The law lifted the statute of limitations on abuse cases to allow victims to file claims regardless of the time or length of the alleged abuse.

The deadline had been extended once before, to January 14, 2021, but due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the statutory special filing period was extended once again.

Ritchie, who was appointed rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 2006, noted in his letter to parishioners that “on May 29 we joyfully celebrated my 50 years as a priest”.

“My family, friends, and parishioners – real and virtual – have all joined with me in commemorating five decades of humble, faith-filled ministry to God and to God’s holy people.”

But a week ago, he wrote, “a terrible sadness entered my life,” referring to the complaint against him in a lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act.

“I am now called to carry a particularly heavy cross, so I need your prayers in a special way,” he said. “Please pray for me and pray for all victims of sexual abuse. Every day you are all in my prayers.

In response to a Catholic News Service question on Aug. 4 seeking comment, Archdiocese of New York spokesperson Joseph Zwilling said, “The Archdiocese of New York takes all allegations of abuse seriously. and responds with compassion and respect. However, we are unable to comment on specific prosecutions brought under the Child Victims Act. “

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