ACCUSED PRIEST STRIKES BACK (Charges fellow priest with defamation)
John Bambrick dreamed of becoming a priest as a 15 year old boy. He remembers the Rev. Anthony Eremito holding his hand and thought it was strange. Eremito clung tightly to it during the movie they were watching together in 1980, shortly after they first met. Bambrick, now 37 and a priest himself, doesn't remember the title of the film, but recalls the handholding, the hand-kissing and the intense hugging that followed as the weeks went on. He remembers how, over the next six months, Eremito began rubbing his torso, then his buttocks and genitalia. Eremito assured him that such physical contact was normal within the brotherhood of priests. But, when Bambrick refused to have sex with him, he cut off their relationship. He explained that he found another boy who was more willing. After learning that Eremito, whom the New York Archdiocese removed as pastor of Holy Cross Church on West 42nd Street in the early 1990s, had resurfaced as a hospital chaplain in Texas, Bambrick decided to go public with his story. It was the second time he found Eremito working as a priest since he took his story to Cardinal John O'Connor in the early 1990s and says he was assured that it would no longer be permitted. Eremito had worked from 1997 to 1998 in the diocese of Trenton. Bambrick wants Eremito removed, once and for all. Now, Bambrick says he is facing retaliation through a rarely used Catholic Church legal proceeding, and a high-ranking Queens monsignor is participating in the bid to have him ousted. Bambrick said he faces a possible church trial on defamation of character charges filed against him this week by Eremito. Eremito's canon lawyer is Msgr. William Varvaro, pastor of St. Margaret's Church in Middle Village. Bambrick said the allegations against him are an attempt to prevent him from additional airing of his allegations. Officials confirmed that Eremito's complaint if filed with the Diocese of Trenton and under normal procedure would be heard in secret by a panel of priests appointed by its bishop.