Parishioners loyal to a Marine Park priest who was accused of sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys last week lashed out at a group of protestors outside his church on Sunday, with one of the flock spitting at the demonstrators and another telling them to stick the flyer they were handing out “up their [buttocks].”
Members of the New Jersey-based Road to Recovery, a group that says it helps victims of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members, came to the Good Sehpherd Church on Batchelder Street to “stand in solidarity” with teenagers who filed sex abuse charges against Msgr. Thomas Brady, the pastor emeritus of the church.
No punches were thrown, but parishioners argued openly with the protestors, which didn’t surprise it’s leader, who claimed that those who lashed out were angry, bitter and in denial because they had been overly indoctrinated by the church.
“They want to say their priest would never do such a thing, but they forget that two 13-year-old boys were involved,” said Rev. Robert Hoatson. “I don’t blame [the parishioners], I blame the brainwashing the church has done over the centuries.”
Police arrested Brady on Oct. 14, claiming that that Good Shepherd’s former spiritual leader had attempted a “criminal sex act” on two minors at two different times the day before.
Investigators say one of the attacks took place in the church rectory at 10:45 am Thursday morning. The victim said Brady, 77, allegedly made several lewd comments toward the teen. At one point, the former FDNY chaplain “offered to have sex” with the minor, cops said.
The victim’s father claims that Brady went further — the septuagenarian “put his hands down” his son’s pants and groped the teen, a student at Good Shepherd Parochial School.
“[My son] wants to go back to school, but quite frankly I’m afraid for him,” the father explained. “I don’t think [the parishioners] believe him.”
The community may not: most parishioners quickly came to Brady’s defense, claiming that the aging priest — who suffered two strokes and is currently suffering from lung cancer — couldn’t have possibly done what the teen’s claim.
“[Brady’s] almost 80 and has had numerous strokes,” parishioner Pat Davis explained. “If he was in a nursing home, none of this would have happened. I guess anything is possible. But I doubt it.”
But the protestors believe the teens.
“These young teenagers should be applauded by the entire community for the very unusual action of reporting sexual abuse soon after it happened,” Hoatson said. “Most children can’t speak about sexual abuse until many years later.”
The teens first made their claim of abuse to officials at the Diocese of Brooklyn who, after their own investigation, removed Brady, who continued to live at the church rectory since retiring in 2009, from the Marine Park parish and forwarded its findings to District Attorney Charles Hynes, who charged Brady with attempting a “criminal sex act” before handing the case over to Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan. Brady was released on $2,000 bond.
A DA spokesman said Hynes couldn’t take the case since he and Brady are “longtime acquaintances.”
Diocese spokeswoman Stefanie Gutierrez said Brady will not be able to say mass or administer sacraments.
This week’s “Shepherd’s Staff,” the church’s bulletin, included a note from Bishop Nicholas DiMarizio, explaining Brady’s arrest, and encouraging anyone who had been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of the clergy as a minor to report it via a toll-free telephone number.
Some Good Shepherd parishioners say they’ll continue to support Brady, who was still listed as parish’s pastor emeritus in the weekly bulletin, but hope that the protestors don’t return.
“[The protestors] being here is like pouring salt in our wounds,” said one parishioner, who wished not to give her name. “If they want to support the children they can do so privately and on their own time.”
Another parishioner took a different approach.
“People have a right to protest, even if it’s against the monsignor,” said Marion Orleman. “We gotta pray for them.”
Reach reporter Thomas Tracy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (718) 260-2525.