A well known and once well regarded Irish American priest in the Bronx is suing the Archdiocese of New York for libel. Charles Kavanagh claims that the sex abuse allegations made against him were false, and that church officials here knew it when they repeated them in public.
According to NBC in his court filing this week Kavanagh said his chief accuser had withdrawn the allegations made in 2002 that the priest had molested him when he was a teenager during a church trip to Washington, D.C.
'The statement was not true, and I apologize for it,' former accuser Daniel Donohue wrote in a sworn statement submitted to the federal court.
Donohue had previously claimed that Kavanaugh got into his bed in a Washington hotel room and had rubbed against him. Donohue had also claimed that when Kavanagh held his hands during prayer it made him uncomfortable.
'The pointed finger has come back. He has withdrawn the only allegation against Monsignor Kavanagh,' his attorney John Dearie told the court.
Kavanagh has fought tirelessly for the past ten years to clear his name. Originally he filed a counter lawsuit against Donohue but dropped it after Donohue openly admitted that his story about what happened 30 years ago was untrue.
Meanwhile Kavanagh was convicted at a church trial and ultimately kicked out of the church.
In May of this year Catholic Church spokesman Joseph Zwilling told the press that Kavanaugh had been removed from his duties because of 'multiple counts' of sexual abuse.
'That is a flat-out lie. There are not multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor,' Kavanagh’s sister and attorney Ann Mandt told NBC. 'And that’s why we sued them. Because it is a lie.'
Responding to the new suit Zwilling told the press this week that church attorneys are currently reviewing the new defamation lawsuit. 'I stand by the truthfulness and accuracy of my May 1, 2012, statement,' Zwilling added.
Kavanaugh was formerly the vicar of development for the Catholic Church in New York and served for more than 40 years as a priest. His final post was as head of Saint Raymond's Church in the Bronx, before he was removed from his clerical work in a secret church trial.
For the last decade Kavanaugh has called the allegations against him false and is reportedly demanding a 'full and fair hearing' in public. His attorneys say they in part blame former Cardinal Egan, who they claimed was under scrutiny for allegations he had mishandled abuse charges by other priests when he led the church in Connecticut.
According to NBC Kavanagh lost his job, his home and his pension and now relies solely on the help and support of his friends in Florida where he now lives. Kavanaugh's lawsuit is seeking damages against the archdiocese and Zwilling, as well as the Catholic New York publication and its editor, which published Zwilling’s comments.
Meanwhile Kavanagh's attorneys claim after a decade of being falsely accused, he still wants his old job back.