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New lawsuit focuses on alleged sex abuse, lists Diocese of Rochester, Boy Scouts

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A new child sex abuse lawsuit filed in Monroe County under the Child Victims Act is focused on both the Diocese of Rochester and the Boy Scouts. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A new child sex abuse lawsuit filed in Monroe County under the Child Victims Act is focused on both the Diocese of Rochester and the Boy Scouts.

The plaintiff in the case claims that Father Robert O'Neill sexually abused him when he was 16. The lawsuit was filed on Monday against the Diocese of Rochester, Roman Catholic Parish of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, the Boy Scouts of America, and the Seneca Waterways Council for the Boy Scouts of America.

In February 1994, the lawsuit states the victim was an Eagle Scout and had told leaders in the Boy Scouts that he was "interested in religion, philosophy, and politics, among other subjects." Fr. O'Neill was subsequently assigned to the victim as a mentor and counselor, as he was already active with local Boy Scout programs at the time.

During a tour of the Church of the Annunciation at a later date, the victim claims Fr. O'Neill rubbed his back and touched his upper thighs, then repeated the touching while he drove the victim to events later on.

The lawsuit goes on to describe a weekend in September 1994, in which Fr. O'Neill invited the victim to his cabin near Chaumont, indicating it would be a trip with several other boys from the youth group. The victim later learned he was the only boy going; O'Neill later claimed everyone else had cancelled.

While at the cabin, the lawsuit claims Fr. O'Neill tried to get the victim to engage in confession, often focusing on sexual topics. The victim was given only alcohol to drink when they arrived before O'Neill "engaged in unpermitted, harmful, and offensive sexual contact" with the victim. The next morning, O'Neill drove the victim home. The victim refused to have any contact with him after that.

Fr. O'Neill has been named in 12 other suits filed over the course of the last month. He died in 2005.

A spokesperson for the Diocese said, out of respect for the legal process, the Diocese is refraining from commenting on specific cases.

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