The Rev. John Minkler, a 57 year old Catholic priest, was found dead two days after denying he sent a 1995 letter that accused his bishop of being part of a ring of homosexual Albany priests. He was found dead, February 15, in his home in Watervliet. Police won't say how or when he died so the death remains shrouded in mystery. Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard said that Minkler was very disturbed that his name was associated with this letter, and he wanted to assure me that he was not its author. A copy of the 1995 letter, supposedly sent to the Archdiocese of New York in Manhattan, surfaced following a press conference, called by a lawyer who has represented several alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Albany Diocese in a statement issued yesterday said Minkler was identified as the letter's author in a subsequent television news report. Minkler denied writing the letter in a written statement. An upstate man said Hubbard had a sexual relationship with his brother, Thomas Zalay, 30 years ago. Zalay committed suicide in 1978. Zalay's brother, Andrew, said he found a note in his parents' home identifying Hubbard.  A second man, Anthony Bonneau, claimed that Hubbard paid him for sex in the 1970s in an Albany park.

Hubbard described the past four months as a profoundly painful and disillusioning experience, as he spoke yesterday for the fist time after outside investigators found no proof to support accusations of sexual misconduct against him.  Hubbard, 65, who had maintained that he had kept his vow of celibacy, said he knew his name would be cleared.  The probe found no credible evidence to support the claims.  

(Albany, New York)