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Victim sues Diocese of Rochester over claims of sexual abuse by priest

Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester.jpg
A new lawsuit has been filed against the Diocese of Rochester and several other local Catholic organizations over allegations of sexual abuse. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - A new lawsuit was filed against the Diocese of Rochester and several other local Catholic organizations Monday evening over allegations of sexual abuse.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Monroe County and names several prominent religious organizations as defendants, including the Catholic Youth Organization of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, Most Holy Redeemer Parish and St. Bridget's Church.

According to the complaint, the allegations center around Rev. Francis Vogt, who is the brother of Monsignor Joseph Vogt. Francis Vogt has been the subject of previous sexual abuse accusations.

In 1969, the victim - whose name is not being disclosed by 13WHAM News due to the sexual abuse detailed in the lawsuit - was taken by Rev. Vogt to the Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization facility on Chestnut Street to swim. The victim was 5-years-old at the time.

For two years, allegations detailed in the lawsuit claim Rev. Vogt sexually assaulted, abused and had sexual contact at both the Chestnut Street facility and at the victim's home.

The victim says the Diocese of Rochester and St. Bridget's "had a duty not to aid pedophiles such as [Rev.] Vogt by assigning, maintaining, and/or appointing them to positions with access to minors." The lawsuit goes on to claim the defendants knew or should have known about the abuse and covered it up.

Rev. Vogt has since died. The Diocese of Rochester removed him, along with 22 other priests, from ministry and posted all of their names to the Diocesan website.

The victim said he suffered "personal, physical, and psychological injuries and damages as a result of [Rev] Vogt’s actions." The lawsuit seeks a trial by jury and compensatory and punitive damages as seen fit by the jury.

The victim in this case is being represented by Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of other child sex abuse victims who filed claims against Catholic church organizations. Garabedian said his client is empowering himself and other sexual abuse victims by filing this lawsuit.

"You have negligent supervision here, and I've named the negligent supervisors, the entities in the complaint...and what you have here is complicity, as it's alleged in the complaint, of supervisors allowing an innocent child to be sexually abused," he told 13WHAM.

Garabedian says he represents 25 victims who claimed they were abused by Rev. Vogt.

In 2002, the Catholic Courier reported other credible allegations against Rev. Vogt. Just four years earlier, Catholic Charities honored Rev. Vogt by renaming a facility in his honor. He died in 2006.

This is the first lawsuit filed against the diocese under the new Child Victims Act. The window that allows victims of child sex abuse in New York to sue doesn't open up until August, but Garabedian said he decided to file the lawsuit now to ensure his client's voice would be heard.

When asked for comment, a representative for the Rochester Diocese said, "We haven’t been served. This is the first complaint the Diocese has received under the NYS Child Victims Act. We anticipate there will be others. It is under review."

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