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20 additional sex abuse lawsuits filed against Catholic diocese

OGDENSBURG — The Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg has been named in 20 additional child sexual abuse complaints under the New York Child Victims Act.

The law firms of Jeff Anderson & Associates and LaFave Wein & Frament announced the lawsuits Tuesday.

“I cannot comment on specific allegations or pending litigation. The Diocese of Ogdensburg takes all allegations of abuse seriously, and these new allegations will be investigated,” Darcy Fargo, director of communications for the diocese, said in an email. “We hope and pray that victims of abuse are able to find healing and reconciliation, and that justice is served in these cases.”

A total of seven clergymen have been publicly identified for the first time, the law firm claims.

They include:

• Monsignor F. Gordon Coseo, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1971 to 1976 at Notre Dame in Malone.

• Father Joseph W. Elliott, accused of sexually abusing a minor from approximately 1985 to 1988 at St. Michael in Parishville and St. Mary in Potsdam.

• Father George A. Fontaine, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1971 at Our Lady of Lourdes in Schroon Lake.

• Father Frank M. Kearns, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1965 to 1967 at St. Joseph in Dannemora. abusing a minor in approximately 1971 or 1972 at St. Peter in Lowville.

• Monsignor John F. Pendergast, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1987 to 1989 at St. Mary in Massena.

• Father Donald E. Seguin, accused of sexually abusing a minor in approximately 1961 at Sacred Heart in Crown Point.

• Four complaints allege abuse by Father Emile G. LaLonde in the 1960s and 1970s when he was assigned to St. John the Baptist in Madrid and St. Augustine in North Bangor. The firms have now filed a total of five cases implicating Father LaLonde.

• Four complaints name Father John J. Fallon, who was criminally convicted in connection with receiving child pornography in the mail in 1986. The firms have now filed a total of five cases naming Father Fallon.

• Two complaints allege abuse by Father Liam O’Doherty, who was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury in 1979 for sexually abusing minors at St. Ann in Saint Regis Falls. One of the complaints filed Tuesday alleges abuse dating back to 1966, shortly after Father O’Doherty was ordained a priest. The firms have now filed a total of four complaints implicating Father O’Doherty. His whereabouts are unknown.

“We pray that the fact that there have been no credible allegations of abuse occurring in the last 20 years is a sign that we are on the right course,” Fargo said. “With the implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People both nationwide and locally, and the implementation of the diocesan Safe Environment and Child and Youth Protection policies, we feel great strides have been made to protect children.”

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