A Catholic priest acting as a Montgomery County family’s spiritual adviser has been arrested, accused of sexually abusing the family’s four children, state police said Wednesday.
John W. Broderick, 47, of Nicholville, St. Lawrence County, is accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with the children, ages 5 to 11, over several months last year.
State police in Fonda began investigating after receiving a complaint from a Montgomery County family. The parent told police Broderick befriended the family and became their spiritual adviser.
He left the county in May 2007, ending up in Massena, at the Holy Name of Jesus Academy. He was arrested by state police investigators there.
State police identified him with the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse; however, the school he was arrested at appears to be run by a sect not officially recognized by the Catholic Church.
Montgomery County District Attorney Jed Conboy said he did not believe Broderick was in the county acting on behalf of any diocese. Conboy was unsure how long Broderick was in the county.
State police spokeswoman Maureen Tuffey said the extent of the allegations make investigators fear Broderick had more victims.
“If somebody is 47 years old and doing this, it’s usually not their first time,” Tuffey said. “Generally speaking, when you see these cases, you usually encounter other victims.”
She cited that as the main reason they publicized the case Wednesday. Anyone with information was asked to call the state police at 853-4708.
State police described Broderick as a pastor who was not assigned to a particular church.
Broderick faces three counts of first-degree sexual abuse, felonies, one count of second-degree sexual abuse and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, misdemeanors.
He was arraigned in Town of Palatine Court and ordered held on $50,000 bail.
Broderick was suspended earlier this year by the Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, police said.
However, the school where he was arrested is run by the Dominican Sisters of Idaho, a group not officially recognized by the Catholic Church, according to an article in the Watertown Daily Times.
A spokesperson for the Syracuse Catholic diocese did not return a call for comment Wednesday. Neither Montgomery County nor Massena are part of that diocese.
Montgomery County falls under the Albany diocese. Ken Goldfarb, spokesman for Albany, confirmed Broderick is not a priest for Albany and he was never assigned to any diocese parish. The Albany diocese extends west to include Herkimer County.
Further, any priest from another diocese would have to ask permission from the local bishop to practice, Goldfarb said. “We have no knowledge of him ever seeking permission.”
Massena is under the Ogdensburg diocese. An official there said the Holy Name of Jesus school was under another group’s control. Calls to the school’s listed number were not returned Wednesday.
The Holy Name of Jesus Academy opened in September, serving about 50 girls in preschool to seventh grades, according to a newsletter from a group related to the Dominican Sisters of Idaho.
The newsletter also includes several photographs. In one photo, a man identified as “independent New York state priest, Fr. John Broderick” is described as helping bless the school complex.