PRIESTS FACE JUDGMENT (8 LI clerics accused of abuse are defrocked, 3 face church trials, 2 cleared, according to letter to parishioners from bishop of Rockville Centre)

In a report on the abuse crisis to be published later this week, Bishop William Murphy discloses that eight Long Island priests accused of sexually abusing minors have been defrocked by the Vatican, three priests were ordered to face church trials and two others were cleared.  In a three page letter, Murphy said 23 priests had credible abuse allegations made against them.  The accusations against nine of the priests were disposed of by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, while the cases against 14 others were sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for review.  Diocese officials declined to name any of the priests referred to in the letter.  However, the diocese has previously identified Michael Hands and Andrew Millar, two priests who arrests and convictions in New York State courts were well publicized.  They have been formally removed from the priesthood.  A Newsday story in May reported, and the diocese confirmed at that time, that the Rev. Michael Carroll was cleared of sexual misconduct by the Vatican earlier this year.  Officials also found allegations unsubstantiated against the Rev. Brian Brinker, according to priests who said that Murphy announced Rome's finding against both men at a conference for priests in November.  Cases against nine of those priests were never sent to Rome essentially because they plea bargained with the diocese, agreeing to a permanent suspension in return for keeping some retirement and medical benefits.  One of those priests under permanent suspension is Msgr. Charles Ribaudo, the former pastor of St. Dominic's parish in Oyster Bay, who has said publicly that because of his heart condition, he was not well enough to contest the charges against him.