BENNINGTON — A former priest with a history of sexually abusing boys and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y., are being sued over alleged abuse of an unnamed victim during incidents in Bennington County.
The suit was filed this week in Bennington Superior Court Civil Division by attorney Christopher Flint, of Cooper Erving & Savage, of Albany, on behalf of a victim referred to as John Doe. It seeks damages for the alleged long-term effects of incidents occurring an unspecified number of years ago when the plaintiff was a boy.
The former priest, Mark Haight, was one of several in the Albany Diocese involved in complaints of sexual abuse of minors, over which confidential settlement payments were made to victims by the diocese over a 25-year period, according to a New York Times report in 2002. At the time, the diocese had recently acknowledged that a number of settlements had been concluded.
Haight was involved in at least two settlement agreements involving complaints of sexual abuse of a minor. One settlement amount that was later made public involved a payment of $997,500, given in 1997 to an unnamed man who said he was abused by Haight over several years, beginning at age 12.
The Albany Times Union reported in 2002 that Haight was ordained in 1976 and served in parishes throughout the Capital Region.
The suit filed in Bennington alleges that Haight "at the particular time set forth herein, was in the state of Vermont, County of Bennington, in the company of the minor plaintiff."
It is alleged that "on multiple occasions, over the course of many years, the defendant Haight did engage in sexual abuse against the plaintiff, who at the time was a minor."
The diocese, according to the suit, "was on notice, actual and constructive, of the proclivities of the defendant Haight, to engage in illegal relationships with minors, and did not act to prevent said actions from happening."
The diocese's knowledge of the situation included "prior settlements involving the defendant Haight's criminal actions against minors, which were founded upon prior complaints about the very same actions defendant Haight took against John Doe herein."
The alleged abuse, according to the suit, caused the plaintiff "to become permanently injured and suffered pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life, loss of earnings, medical and counseling expenses ."
The time frame of the alleged incidents is not specified in the suit. But it states "this action is timely brought within the state of Vermont, as these actions having occurred more than six years ago, but within six years of the time the plaintiff became aware of the consequences of the damages, which occurred in or around 2014. This action has been brought within six years thereafter and is therefore timely."
Flint could not be reached Friday for further comment on the suit.
A spokeswoman for the Albany Diocese said Friday they could not comment at this time.