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Attorneys: 65 claims of clergy abuse from Diocese of Rochester

More than 65 people have come forward with claims of clergy abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. 13WHAM compiled the numbers from two attorneys representing clients. (WHAM photo)

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) - More than 65 people have come forward with claims of clergy abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. 13WHAM compiled the numbers from two attorneys representing clients.

This is in addition to a New York State Attorney General’s investigation into abuse allegations in all five New York dioceses.

Carol DuPre is one of the people who have come forward. She was 15 and felt alone when she said she was first molested by her priest at St. Gregory's in Marion. Now, 56 years later, Carol's story could become one of hundreds, maybe thousands compiled in the state attorney general's investigation.

Leander James, one of the attorneys representing victims, said his firm often turns to trusted formulas to determine the number of potential cases in a given area.

“You can establish formulas in a geographic area and a demographic to identify the number of potential clergy abusers," James said.

One of the formulas is based on a study that found four percent of Catholic priests abuse minors.

If true and applied in Rochester, this would mean the diocese, at its peak in 1966, had 371 active priests.

That would roughly put the number of abusive priests at 15.

However, James said many believe that four percent factor is far too low.

“Every time I work in a diocese, you start to see patterns develop. I’m still trying to see the patterns in Rochester diocese," James said. "One of the things I can say is you have a high number of Catholics and you can expect to see, and I would expect to see, more victims and I would expect to see more victims per capita here."

James' firm is making plans to add a Rochester office to deal with the number of abuse claims.

In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report uncovered 1,000 victims of clergy abuse.

James says New York has 14 percent more Catholics than Pennsylvania and based on that, he believes New York’s number of victims will be about 14 percent higher than Pennsylvania.

Experts estimate only about 10 percent of clergy abuse victims are likely to come forward.

13WHAM has learned more than 200 calls have been made to the hotline set up by the New York State Attorney General’s Office. For more information about the abuse hotline, click here.

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