A priest who taught at Don Bosco Technical High School has been acused of abusing a student more than 100 times in the 1970s.
The Diocese of Paterson is facing a lawsuit accusing former priest Sean Rooney. According to the suit, Rooney abused the student at various locations including the Paterson school from 1973 to 1975 beginning when the victim was 13 years old. The victim lives currently in Florida.
The then-teenage student accused Rooney of “grooming him and giving him special treatment” soon after he enrolled at the school, according to the suit.
“Shortly after their first meeting, Father Rooney began sexually assaulting and abusing (him),” the suit states. “Plaintiff estimates that he was abused by Father Rooney in excess of 100 times.”
Rooney, a chemistry teacher at the school, exposed the student to pornography while giving him alcohol, the suit said. The sexual abuse occurred at the school, the suit said.
Not on the list
The former Don Bosco´s teacher is not on the list of 188 priests and deacons deemed “credibly accused” of sexual abuses involving children released last year jointly by New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses.
Rooney´s case is included in the website bishop-accountability.org, a group that tracks allegations against priests. According to its data, he was accused in a 2013 lawsuit of a sexually abusing a 14-year-old seminary student at a retreat house in Massachusetts and at a seminary in New York.
One of the main criticisms levelled at the Catholic church has been its leaving hundred of names off its list of credibly accused priests.
This lawsuit filed by the former Don Bosco Technical High School student is another in the numerous allegations occured under a new law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.
Who is Sean Rooney?
“The Official Catholic Directory” reference resource states that Rooney was ordained in 1959 and assigned to work in New Jersey on several occasions.
Rooney worked at Don Bosco Technical High School from 1971 to 1975, before he was transferred to Archbishop Shaw High School in New Orleans, where he worked until 1979. He was then transferred to work as a financial administrator and counselor at Salesian Junior Seminary in Goshen, New York.
In 1981, Rooney was transferred again to New Jersey, where he worked as a counselor for Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey. Rooney was transferred in 1983 to Alabama, where he remained for two decades. He returned to New York in 2003. In 2008, the Salesians of Don Bosco announced Rooney’s “laicization,” or removal from sacred orders as punishment for transgression.
Robert Fazio, president of Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, said Monday he had no knowledge of Rooney and could not comment on the lawsuit. The lawsuit does not make any allegations about Rooney’s short time at Don Bosco Prep in the early 1980s.
Fazio said that to investigate all allegations of sexual abuse is a priority for the school, Fazio said.
“Abuse on any level is unacceptable,” Fazio said, adding that the institution has embraced the policies and procedures of the “Protecting God’s Children Program.”
Salesians also accused
In addition to the Paterson Diocese, lawsuit names the Salesians Society and accuses the diocese and the Catholic Church of engaging in a conspiracy to conceal “credible allegations of child sexual abuse against priests.”
The lawsuit alleges officials with the Catholic church transferred Rooney and other priests accused of abusing children rather than report them to police.