Nov. 22, 2021 By Christian Murray
An 86-year-old priest has been removed from the ministry following an investigation conducted by the Brooklyn Diocese that determined that a claim of child molestation against him dating back to the 1970s was credible.
Rev. Peter Mahoney–who had been ministering part-time to the Hispanic community at Saint Anne Catholic Church in Flushing and St. Nicholas of Tolentine in Jamaica, Queens—is no longer permitted to celebrate mass publicly, or exercise any public ministry. He is also not permitted to live in an ecclesiastical residence.
Mahoney was investigated follow a claim that he sexually abused a minor between 1975 and 1978 while serving at St. Martin of Tours in Brooklyn.
The allegation came into the Diocese of Brooklyn’s Reporting Line on Oct. 2, 2020, and was referred for investigation and forwarded to law enforcement on that date.
The allegations, however, date back to the 1970’s – so it is past the statute of limitations for criminal investigation.
The claim, nevertheless, was investigated by the independent Diocesan Review Board (DRB) and found to be credible. Mahoney’s name is also being added to the List of Credibly Accused Priests on the Diocese of Brooklyn website.
The diocese—which oversees church activity in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn—said that its finding should not be interpreted as a judgment of his guilt. However, it is recognition of the possibility that wrongdoing may have taken place, and therefore, out of concern for the safety of the parishioners, it was determined necessary to remove him from ministry.
On April 8, 2021, a lawsuit was filed against Mahoney under the Child Victims Act with an allegation from a different claimant.
The Diocese of Brooklyn said that it has instituted significant programs to prevent sexual abuse and protect children. They include a Zero Tolerance policy that states that any clergy member credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is permanently removed from ministry.
The Diocese said that it also conducts initial and ongoing background checks of all employees and volunteers and provides age-appropriate sexual abuse awareness training for children and adults.
Anyone who has been the victim of clergy sexual abuse is encouraged to report it to law enforcement or to the Toll-Free Reporting Line established by the Diocese at 1-888-634-4499. All calls are forwarded to law enforcement officials.