Spotlight on Abuse: St. Mary’s Episcopal Convent and Hospital

By | May 3, 2022
St. Mary's Episcopal Convent and Hospital
St. Mary's Episcopal Convent and Hospital

St. Mary’s Episcopal Convent and Hospital

In October 2020, an adult woman sued the Episcopal Community of Sisters of St. Mary (Eastern Province) , the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island , the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn , and St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in the Supreme Court of the State of New York over historical underage sexual abuse by an Episcopal priest employed at the Episcopal sisters’ hospitals and children’s homes. The suit alleges abuse by Episcopal priest abuser Joel Harvey when the plaintiff was five to six years old, with lifelong personal, psychiatric, spiritual, financial, and sexual damage. The plaintiff reserved her right to add claims of fraudulent concealment, deceptive practices, and civil conspiracy ny the named defendants. The defendants filed no objection to consolidation of the claims.
Harvey was hired by the sisters to be chaplain of their St. Mary’s Children’s Hospital in Bayside, Queens. He died in 2014. Harvey listed himself in public documents as director of pastoral care and education at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Professor of Pastoral Theology at the diocese’s  Mercer School of Theology, a member of the Order of Saint Luke for Healing Prayer, a priest of the Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, Garden City, Long Island from 1984 to 2014, and director of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island’s healthcare chaplaincy ministries for almost 30 years. He was ordained in 1985.
The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has released a list of 108 living and dead priests with which credible claims of sexual abuse before 2002 are substantiated. The diocesan website says, “The vast majority of cases involved priests who were ordained between 1930-1979.” The Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn oversaw the credentials and pastoral care for work in St. Mary’s Episcopal Hospital for Children.
The Episcopal Diocese of Long Island is frequently a defendant in sexual abuse lawsuits related to its clergy, schools, parishes, and other institutions. St. John’s Episcopal Hospital is the defendant in hundreds of hospital malpractice lawsuits in the New York State Supreme Court.
The Sisters of Saint Mary’s left The Episcopal Church immediately after the lawsuit was filed and joined the conservative anti-gay Anglican Church in North America. The small order was a plaintiff in a 2021 U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding mandatory insurance coverage of abortion and contraception by New York State employers. It currently has five members and claims to be the oldest Anglican religious order in existence.
The suit alleges:
“The Hospital placed Abuser in positions where he had unfettered and prolonged unsupervised access to children.”
“The Dioceses placed Abuser in positions where he had unfettered and prolonged unsupervised access to children.”
“The Sisters placed Abuser in positions where he had unfettered and prolonged unsupervised access to children.”

None of the defendants have made any statements about the suit. The case is due for trial readiness and completion of discovery by December 7, 2022. Eight separate law firms are litigating the case for a complex number of defendants and the plaintiff.

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