Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Schenectady lawsuit against Catholic diocese dismissed

A state Supreme County judge dismissed negligence charges against the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese and Bishop Gibbons High School in connection with a $2 million civil lawsuit filed by the family of a teenage girl who said she was inappropriately touched by Armando Tebano.

Judge Richard Aulisi ruled the girl’s family failed to establish a proper reason to sue the two Catholic institutions, saying the family’s claims fell more under a breach of contract scenario than one of negligence.

Aulisi’s decision, issued last month, affects the diocese and the high school. The family is also suing Tebano for negligence and he remains a party to the suit, said the family’s attorney, John Aretakis.

“The case against Tebano is going forward. When a motion to dismiss is made, it holds up the action. Now that the case has been denied, we will conduct depositions and move toward trial,” Aretakis said.

Aulisi’s decision allows the family to place the full burden of negligence on Tebano, Aretakis said. He expects a trial sometime in 2009. He added he intends to file another lawsuit against the diocese and the high school claiming a breach of contract over their actions.

Tebano attorney Peter Lynch said the case is pending and offered no further comment.

Aretakis sued the diocese, Gibbons and Tebano earlier this year in state Supreme Court. The lawsuit claims the diocese and high school intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the girl by denying her admission to the high school as a student the day school was set to begin in 2007.

Tebano is the former chairman of the city and county Republican committees and the former Republican commissioner of elections for Schenectady County.

The girl accused Tebano of fondling her in 2005 while they watched a movie at Tebano’s home. She was 14 at the time. Tebano faced misdemeanor third-degree sexual abuse, forcible touching and child endangerment charges.

Tebano admitted in Schenectady City Court in February 2007 to a violation harassment charge, heading off a high-profile trial on charges he inappropriately touched the girl. He admitted only to having “physical contact” with the girl before City Court Judge Guido Loyola.

In return for his guilty plea, Tebano was sentenced to perform 250 hours of community service, was ordered to give a DNA sample — unusual for a violation plea — and to undergo a psychological evaluation.

Aretakis charged that Tebano received preferential treatment in court because he is married to Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago.

Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb said Aulisi’s decision speaks for itself, “as have all prior decisions in all the other courts involving this attorney.”
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(Source: DG)

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