ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The deposition of former Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany bishop Howard J. Hubbard, who served in that role from 1977 to 2014, is now public after attempts to conceal it by his lawyers.
In his own words, the former bishop says by not reporting sexual abuse claims to law enforcement he was hoping to avoid scandal and retain the “respect for the priesthood”. When asked by an attorney why he did not inform parishioners, specifically parents, about troubled priests, Hubbard said, “by the standards I was using in the 70s and 80s, I didn’t think that was a necessity.”
Hubbard was deposed over a series of several days in April 2021. According to the deposition, between 1977 and 2002, the bishop was made aware of at least 11 priests who had been accused of sexually assaulting children.
During his tenure, Hubbard sent some of those priests away for “treatment” after allegations were made against them. Upon return, some were sent back to their parish. Others? Transferred. In each case, Hubbard never made parishioners aware their priest was accused of sexual assault, nor was law enforcement involved.
Hubbard was asked if it was a “policy to investigate a priest who was accused of molesting a child?” He responded by saying, “there was a policy to investigate if the priest denied the charge, but in most instances the priest acknowledged misconduct. So there wasn’t a necessity to do an investigation because it was acknowledged by the clergyman.”
An attorney followed Hubbard’s response by asking if a priest denied allegations of abuse, would the Church investigate? To which Hubbard answered, “well yes. He would have due process.”
Attorney Jeffrey Anderson of Jeff Anderson & Associates, whose firm specializes in abuse claims and represents 190 survivors of sexual abuse in Albany, says the bishop practiced a “systematic concealment” of sexual abuse.
“A playbook employed by him to protect the reputation of the diocese. To collaborate and coordinate with the other bishops in New York and to effectively protect the priests and himself and all the others who were offending kids not just recently but spanning decades,” Anderson says, “he made the decisions to protect one offender after another. Who are now identified in this deposition and sworn testimony as the choices that he made,” Anderson says. Anderson says with the release of the deposition, which was made possible by Albany County Supreme Court Judge L. Michael Mackey, “it [the deposition] gives empowerment to victims,” and that it, “lightens survivor burdens”.
Also in the deposition, Hubbard acknowledged that documents pertaining to abuse allegations were kept in secret “sealed” files in accordance with the Church’s Canon Law.
In response to the deposition being made public, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany says, “Our priority is the protection and assistance of victim/survivors and the discovery of the truth. The wounds persist, the accompaniment continues, the denial and cover up does not.
As we stated earlier, while we cannot offer detailed information on historic events that occurred long ago, 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.”
The former bishop faces allegations of sexual abuse himself, though he denies those claims.
Read the full deposition here.