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Albany, N.Y.-A northern district of New York judge has refused to apply the federal racketeering act to a case where the plaintiff accuses the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese and its agents of mishandling clergy sex abuse cases. “The decades of sex abuse cover-up by Catholic and civil authorities can not be tagged onto the conduct of the instant defendants in relation to the plaintiff in this case,” Judge David N. Hurd wrote in Hall v. Tressic, No. 5:04-CV-925. At the heart of the case are back-and-forth allegations between the plaintiff and church officials, culminating in an attorney’s ultimately unsuccessful effort to drag a handful of claims under the broad umbrella of the civil Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO. Hurd said that plaintiff’s counsel John A. Aretakis failed to demonstrate “sufficient acts over a long enough period of time to demonstrate a pattern of racketeering activity to sustain” a RICO claim. The court also said that the plaintiff’s alleged injury, to the extent that it does include allegations of racketeering, must fail for lack of a nexus between the alleged injury and the alleged racketeering. Abuse allegations Steven Hall was a homeless and destitute young man, involved in drugs and prostitution, when he met Tressic of Sacred Heart Church in Gloversville, Fulton County, according to the decision. Records show Hall lived in the rectory for about four years, with Tressic taking care of the youth and eventually sending him off to college. During that time, Hall contends, he was abused and molested by the priest. Tressic denies the allegations. Hall came forward with his allegations in August 2002, when he accused Tressic of improprieties and attempted to negotiate a settlement. During a meeting with Tressic and Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, it was allegedly agreed that Tressic would continue to pay Hall’s food and rent stipend at the State University of New York at Cortland until the matter was resolved. Shortly thereafter, according to the complaint, Hall accepted a $75,000 settlement offer from Tressic in satisfaction of any possible claims. Two months after the settlement was finalized in 2003, Tressic filed criminal charges against Hall, accusing the man of attempted extortion. Tressic contended that Hall repeatedly threatened to go to the media with his story unless he received money. Hall was subsequently indicted on a charge of attempted second-degree grand larceny. The filing of charges required Hall to withdraw from his student- teaching position. In February 2004, Fulton County Judge Polly Hoye dismissed the indictment in the interests of justice.

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