Rochester bishop emeritus’ testimony about clergy abuse released
On July 6, an attorney for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the bankruptcy case of the Diocese of Rochester made public the transcript of a March 3 deposition of Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark. On Feb. 11, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court had granted the committee’s request for the deposition, which ran nearly three hours.
The accuracy and usefulness of the deposition remains at issue, however, as Bishop Clark was suffering from memory and language impairments due to Alzheimer’s disease at the time he was interviewed. The 82-year-old bishop, who currently requires 24-hour care and resides in the infirmary of the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse, was diagnosed with early stages of the disease in July of 2019.
In a July 6 statement, diocesan officials noted that “While any individual would have difficulty providing an accurate memory of events that occurred over a period of more than 33 years, Bishop Clark was further hindered by his struggle with early Alzheimer’s Disease.”
“As a result of these limitations, the deposition is in many instances imprecise and inaccurate and thus calls into question whether it is a credible addition to the bankruptcy case record,” the diocesan statement added.
Bishop Clark’s attorney, Mary Jo Korona, had argued in early February that the bishop emeritus would not be able to competently testify due to the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, and cited the professional opinion of Bishop Clark’s neurologist, Dr. Anthony M. Maroldo.
“This disease causes him to experience impairment of memory retrieval and impairment of his ability to formulate and express his thoughts verbally and in written communication,” Maroldo wrote in a Jan. 13 letter to Korona. “His memory impairment limits his ability to assimilate and recall information presented in lengthy or complex questions and his ability to recall past events. His language impairment limits his ability to formulate clear, cogent and reliable responses to such questions.”
The neurologist added that Bishop Clark’s cognitive impairments worsen when the former bishop is tired or stressed.
“Under these circumstances there is no basis for a finding that an examination of the Bishop would yield reliable information and the motion should be denied,” Korona wrote in a Feb. 7 memorandum of opposition to the proposed deposition of Bishop Clark.
In their July 6 statement, diocesan officials also noted, “We continue to pray for the victims of sexual abuse, that they might find the hope and healing they deserve. We pray for Bishop Clark and for all those who suffer from this debilitating and tragic disease, and for the dedicated health professionals and caregivers working to assuage the difficult challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease.”
HELP FOR VICTIMS: If you have been a victim of sexual abuse, you should contact the appropriate civil authorities. To receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, please contact Deborah A. Housel, Victim Assistance Coordinator, (585) 328-3210, ext. 1555, or toll-free 1-800-388-7177, ext. 1555 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.