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Brooklyn diocese unknowingly hired priest accused of child sex abuse

October 16, 2018 By Stephanie Kotsikonas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Our Lady of Angels Church on 73rd Street and 4th Avenue in Bay Ridge. Eagle file photo
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It wasn’t until after their priest returned to his native Colombia that Brooklyn and Queens parishioners learned that the Rev. Roberto Cadavid had a long history of sexual abuse.

The Diocese of Brooklyn hired Cadavid in 2012, “[bypassing] its own safety protocols,” according to Gothamist. Cadavid returned to his homeland in the summer of 2017 because Colombian children were speaking out against him.

At least four boys had already come forward about the abuse they suffered while he served as the director of their school.

While in Colombia, Cadavid was moved from parish to parish as the number of accusations against him continued to grow. One victim, Gothamist wrote, received about $46,000 from Cadavid to keep quiet about the abuse.

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Cadavid began working at Our Lady of Angels Church in Bay Ridge in 2012 and served as the parochial vicar at St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Long Island City, Queens, a year later.

At press time, no allegations were made to the diocese against the priest during his time in Brooklyn. No criminal complaints had been made against him to NYPD either, Gothamist reported.

In an interview with W Radio earlier this year, Colombian Bishop Ricardo Tobon said he referred the abuse accusations against Cadavid to the Vatican after he was suspended in 2012.  

“The Diocese of Brooklyn regularly reviews its policies with the aim of strengthening its protections of children,” the organization said in a statement. “Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of children. When Fr. Roberto Cadavid came to the diocese in 2012, we received a letter granting permission from the Archbishop of Medellin, Ricardo Antonio Tobón Restrepo.

“In addition, in a 2015 letter, Archbishop Restrepo gave Fr. Cadavid permission to continue his ministry in Brooklyn. We also conducted a background check, which Cadavid passed. The letters from the Archbishop never indicated that there were any allegations against Cadavid and led us to believe that there was nothing in his background that would prevent him from ministering here.”

CORRECTION: An earlier edition of this article erroneously stated that the Diocese of Brooklyn knew about the sex abuse allegations against a priest named Fr. Roberto Cadavid prior to hiring him. The Diocese was unaware of the allegations. Other elements from the original source, Gothamist, were later corrected, including the role of Fr. Cadavid in a Queens diocese. The Eagle regrets the error.

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