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Bishop Murphy criticized for refusing to suspend priest

Attorney Mike Reck, left, speaks to the media

Attorney Mike Reck, left, speaks to the media on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, as images of the Rev. Gregory Yacyshyn and a childhood photo of his accuser are displayed. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

A national sex abuse victims group on Friday criticized Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre for refusing to suspend from ministry a priest who is accused of abusing two children in a parish where he worked.

But the priest’s attorney called the allegations “outrageous and irresponsible” and accused the group of tarnishing the reputation of an “innocent man to the point of harassment.”

Law enforcement officials said an investigation of one case found no criminality while a probe into a second case has begun.

The Rev. Gregory Yacyshyn was recently accused in two separate lawsuits of abusing a boy and a girl while serving at St. Francis of Assisi in Greenlawn more than a decade ago.

“We are extremely worried and disappointed that Bishop Murphy has not suspended Father Greg for even a day pending the church’s own investigation,” David Clohessy, director of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said at a news conference outside diocesan headquarters in Rockville Centre.

Elizabeth S. Kase, an attorney for Yacyshyn, said a prior investigation of the priest by the Suffolk County district attorney’s office “was exhaustive and resulted in absolutely no charges being filed against” him.

“Fr. Yacyshyn will continue to defend his name and extraordinary reputation,” Kase said in a statement. “It is outrageous and irresponsible for an organization [SNAP] to continue to target an innocent man to the point of harassment. These new baseless, incredible and defamatory accusations will be addressed in a court of law where Father Yacyshyn will have legal remedies to counter and quash these scurrilous accusations.”

Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said that after investigating the earlier case, involving a girl, Suffolk police “determined not to proceed with criminal charges.”

The second case, involving a boy, is under investigation by the Special Victims Unit of the police department, Clifford and Suffolk police said.

Diocesan spokesman Sean Dolan said Friday that it has yet “to receive a credible accusation in either of these matters.”

A suit against Yacyshyn was filed in January 2015 by a 20-year-old woman who says she was abused by the priest in 2003. It is still being litigated.

She first reported the alleged abuse to authorities in 2013, according to her attorney, John Michael Reck.

The new suit, filed last week in State Supreme Court in Nassau County, accuses Yacyshyn of abusing a boy when he was 5 to 7 years old in 2001-2003, at the same parish.

Reck, who also represents that accuser, said the priest sexually abused the boy on church property on multiple occasions.

The accuser, whom Newsday is not naming because of the nature of the claims, now is 20 years old and decided to come forward after seeing Yacyshyn was not removed from ministry, Reck said.

Yacyshyn is assigned to St. Jude parish in Mastic Beach.

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