OWEGO, N.Y. — Members of St. Patrick's Parish in Owego are reacting to the sexual abuse allegations against a local priest.
Thomas Valenti is one of eight priests accused of sexually abusing children in the Rochester Catholic Diocese. He now serves as a parochial administrator at Blessed Trinity, which includes St. Patrick's.
Valenti is accused of abusing a 15-year-old from 1975 to 1977. During that time, he was a deacon at St. Mary’s in Ontario, New York.
Some people who spoke with Spectrum News say the lawyer representing the victims in this case, Mitchell Garabedian, is digging up the past.
“I really believe he is just causing this issue. Most of the allegations that they dredged up are priests who have either long left the priesthood or are deceased,” said Susan Peterson, church member.
“It was a shock, sure. I’d imagine everybody was shocked to hear this. He’s done a lot with kids or children through his ministry, with college students especially,” said churchgoer Marty Murphy. “I suppose anyone can make an allegation but that’s why the investigations are needed, to see if there is any fact or truth in them.”
"It takes a lot of courage because that person who was sexually abused feels like that younger child who was sexually abused for so many decades that they just don't have the strength to come forward,” said Garabedian.
The Rochester Diocese did release a statement, saying previous allegations against Valenti were investigated and he was cleared of any wrongdoing.