Church Interior


Teen Sex Abuse Victim Sues Rockville Centre Diocese

October 17, 2018 - 7:37 am

PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (WCBS 880) -- A teenager abused by the former music director at a Long Island Catholic church is suing the Diocese of Rockville Center, claiming the church ignored guidelines designed to protect children.

Newsday reports the allegation is detailed in a lawsuit against the pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Patchogue, the Diocese of Rockville Center and Bishop John Barres.

The church's former music director, Efrain Villafane, now 62, pleaded guilty to rape charges last year, and was sentenced to 10 years of probation. He will also be registered as a sex offender for life.

The victim, now 18-years-old, said she was only 15 when the abuse began.

The diocese claims it contacted the district attorney’s office as soon as it learned of the allegations in 2016.

The lawsuit alleges that multiple employees, including a priest, saw Villafane alone with the teen on multiple occasions in the chapel and other locations, but did nothing to stop it. It is against church policy for a minor to be alone with an adult, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported.

Newsday reports that the girl’s mother complained to parish employees in 2016 about Villafane’s involvement with her daughter. One employee allegedly responded with words to the effect, “That can’t happen here anymore, it violates VIRTUS,” the diocesan anti-sex-abuse training program and policy, the lawsuit states.

The girl said she did not report the abuse at first as Villafane was threatening her. The abuse lasted for more than one year.

In a statement, the diocese spokesperson says, "As is our practice, pastoral support, including counseling by professionals experienced in the care of survivors of sexual abuse, was, and continues to be, offered to the survivor and the survivor’s family throughout this difficult ordeal."