By Stephen Borgna sborgna@the-leader.com

CORNING | A former Corning resident has reached a settlement for sexual abuse he says he received at St. Mary’s Church in Corning in the 1960s.

Thomas Mclaughlin, who lived on West 6th Street at the time and now lives near Wilmington, North Carolina, settled for an undisclosed sum with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester for abuse he allegedly received from former priest John Gormley.

Gormley is no longer affiliated with the church. He left the priesthood in 1971. The Diocese of Rochester confirmed that Gormley was with St. Mary’s Church in Corning from 1962-1965 as an assisting priest.

Mclaughlin said he was a 10-year-old altar boy at the time. He said the abuse took place for one summer.

Mclaughlin was involved with the church until his parents passed away.

“I did not want my parents to know what happened,” he said.

Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker said his office is aware of the accusations against Gormley, but cannot pursue charges due to New York’s existing statute of limitations.

“We are aware of it,” Baker said. “We reviewed it, and unfortunately there’s nothing that happened within the statute of limitations for us to investigate.”

“All of the allegations we received happened years outside of any applicable statute of limitations in New York,” he said.

This is why Mclaughlin and his attorney Jordan Merson of Merson Law in New York advocate for the passage of the Child Victims Act.

The act was weighed in the state legislature earlier this summer, but did not pass.

A panel put together by the Archdiocese of the five New York City boroughs and downstate counties has been set up to compensate church victims of sexual abuse, but Merson says the panel is a smokescreen.

“The Archdiocese panel only applies to people in New York City and a few counties north of the city. It’s only areas covered by the Archdiocese,” Merson said. “What the panel seeks to do is stymie the momentum to pass the Child Victims Act, which would benefit everyone in New York, not just those in New York City.”

“The benefit to people in your area would be absolute zero,” he said. “If the child victims act is not passed, the panel would do absolutely nothing for people in Rochester Oswego Syracuse. That seems to be the hotbed of where a lot of the worse sexual abuse that I have encountered is.”

St. Mary’s Church, now known as All Saints Church, and the Diocese of Rochester declined to comment, though the Diocese issued a statement encouraging sexual abuse victims to come forward.

“Victims of abuse should always report to the civil authorities,” the Diocese said in a statement. “To report a case of possible sexual abuse and to receive help and guidance from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, victims are encouraged to contact the victims’ assistance coordinator Deborah Housel at (585) 328-3228 ext. 1555.”