A New York priest is facing some serious allegations that he sexually violated women who would often come to him for help.
A young woman at Father Andre Bain's church filed a lawsuit against the Brooklyn Diocese and its bishop, claiming that when she tried to notify them about the sexual abuse she endured, her words went ignored.
The accuser stated that in 2014, not long after the priest took over as the leader of the St. Vincent Ferrer Church in East Flatbush, she went to him for counseling. Instead, she claims, the 44-year-old priest made advances to her and was coerced into engaging in sex acts with him until early 2015.
She began attending the church in 2009 and often volunteered as an administrative aide.
According to the lawsuit, Bain told her to keep their rendezvous a secret and that they weren't technically committing any sins because they weren't having vaginal sex.
"He told the plaintiff that he acted in this way before and that he would neither get into trouble with the diocese nor lose his priesthood," the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit was filed anonymously by the victim who was in her 20s at the time of her alleged assault. She accuses the diocese and bishop of being negligent and slow to action, therefore leaving the priest open to harassing and abusing other women for years.
“Plaintiff believes that Fr. Bain has been carrying out these behaviors for decades in other parishes since his days in seminary,” the lawsuit states. Considering he was ordained back in 2004, some believe he's been carrying out these heinous acts for over a decade, using his influence and position for devious behaviors.
The diocese has a different take on what happened, saying that as soon as they were aware of the accuser's complaints, they immediately contacted local authorities including the Special Victims Division of the police department.
The accuser said that when she tried to cut ties with the priest, he stalked her, even showing up to her place of work without notice.
Carolyn Erstad, the spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese, said that there was an internal investigation completed. While they haven't publicly discussed their findings, they did remove Bain from the ministry and he now lives in private housing.
"The protocols of our zero tolerance policy were meticulously followed and documented,” Erstad said. "What doesn’t make sense is who the plaintiff has chosen to sue. The lawsuit accuses the bishop of being negligent, but the facts show just the opposite."
Erstad adds that both the New York Police Department and the District Attorney's office chose not to pursue charges against Bain because they didn't find that there were any crimes committed.
Pamela Hayes, the lawyer of the accuser, said that the church needs better vetting when it comes to choosing priests.
Bain's accuser says that she now suffers from depression and no longer attends her church.
We often think of children as victims of abuse by religious officials, but adults are less likely to come forward because they fear people won't believe them, or see them as willing participants.
“The bottom line is they are preying on vulnerable people and using tenets of their religion to do so," Hayes said.