The Brooklyn Diocese announced this week that it would be relieving an 86-year-old priest of his duties after it substantiated a nearly 50-year-old sexual abuse case against him.
An internal diocese investigation found that allegations made in Oct. 2020 against Rev. Peter Mahoney are credible. The elderly priest has been added to the list of credibly accused priests maintained by the diocese.
The allegations date back to the 1970s when Mahoney was serving as a minister to St. Martin of Tours in Bushwick and as the principal of a local Catholic school. Recently, Mahoney served as a part-time minister to St. Anne Catholic Church, and St. Nicholas of Tolentine, both in Queens.
Mahoney was named in a lawsuit filed in April of 2021 utilizing the Child Victims Act in Kings County Supreme Court, which accuses the priest of grooming and sexually abusing a victim when he was 12 and 13 years old.
“Father Mahoney used his position as a priest to groom and to sexually abuse the decedent,” reads the summons. “Father Mahoney used his position of trust and authority as a priest and school principal of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Church of St. Leonard Port Maurice School to groom [the decedent] and sexually abuse and/or assault him at least once.”
The lawsuit accuses Mahoney of asking to see if the victim was circumcised, before performing oral sex on him. It also alleges that staff members of St. Leonard Port Maurice School were present at the time of some of the abuses.
The Diocese says it does not consider their action proof of the guilt of Mahoney, but rather an admission that there is a possibility that wrongdoing took place. The lawsuit-plagued diocese has taken expanded their child protection efforts most recently by creating an Office for the Protection of Children and Young People.
Editor’s note 11/24/2021: A section of this story has been edited to reflect past efforts by the Church to prevent abuse of children.