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Kavanagh files suit against accuser

A defrocked monsignor has filed a defamation suit against the former seminarian whose abuse allegations led to his ouster from the Catholic clergy last year. Monsignor Charles Kavanagh accused Daniel Donohue of repeatedly telling lies to reporters in order to extract a "monetary settlement from the New York Archdiocese." Kavanagh's federal court suit, field in Manhattan, demands unspecified damages from Donohue. Court papers cite more than a half-dozen damning newspaper headlines, noting that Kavanagh was "held up to ridicule and scorn" including when he labeled a "Pervert Priest" in a New York Post headline. Kavanagh, 73, was defrocked last year when a 2006 guilty verdict reached by a church tribunal was upheld on appeal. Kavanagh was found guilty more than 30 years after the crime was allegedly committed. Donohue was his sole accuser. Kavanagh was accused in May 2002 of molesting Donohue during a trip to Washington in the early 1970s. Donohue sent a letter to then Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan, who launched the investigation. Kavanagh was never indicted by a law court, criminal or civil, a point he stressed repeatedly in interviews, including some given to the Irish Echo as his case progressed. Kavanagh, who once led St. Raymond's parish in the Bronx, and who was the archdiocese's vicar of development in the 1990s, was dismissed from the clergy by Egan's successor, Archbishop Timothy Dolan. "Although all of this took place before my arrival as archbishop, I am well-aware of the seriousness of the charges involved in this case, and I am grateful for the careful way that it has been handled," Dolan said in a statement at the time. "I would like to take this occasion to renew our apologies to all those who have been harmed by the sin and crime of sexual abuse," he said. Kavanagh's sister and lawyer, Anne Mandt, said of the dismissal that Kavanagh would maintain his innocence regardless of the church's decision. "The archdiocese went to extraordinary lengths to ensure that this good priest would be judged guilty of something," Mandt said in a statement at the time. She said the archdiocese never gave Kavanagh due process and had refused to reveal the evidence against him. "It dismissed the two polygraphs he took, which proved his truthfulness," she said. "And in fact, it ignored the sworn testimony of almost 20 witnesses, including classmates of the accuser." Mandt said that the church's decision to defrock her brother was an attempt to cover up its mishandling of other sex abuse cases by cracking down on an innocent man.

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