Sept. 11, 2019 By Allie Griffin
A high-ranking Queens priest has again come under fire for child sex abuse, with his accuser speaking out against him at a press conference Tuesday.
Monsignor Otto Garcia, who was recently assigned to the Church of St. Teresa in Woodside, allegedly abused a boy at St. Michael’s Church in Flushing in the 1970s, as first reported by the New York Daily News in February.
Thomas Davis, the alleged victim who first made the allegations against Garcia in 2017, spoke at a press conference yesterday held by the law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, where the firm named 200 Brooklyn Diocese clergy members it believes have “credibly” been accused of child sex abuse. Garcia was one of the priests named.
Davis told reporters yesterday that Garcia sexually abused him when he was a young boy at St. Michael’s in Flushing from 1973 to 1975.
“I was molested by Father Otto Garcia when I was a child, back in the ‘70s,” Davis said at the press conference. “I lived with that for over 45 years, never telling anybody,” Davis added. “He was able to pick me out as a prime victim because my parents were very involved in the church and I didn’t think anybody would believe me.”
Davis reported the assault to the Diocese of Brooklyn years later in 2017, only to have the allegations dismissed.
Davis said the investigation by the diocese was inadequate. He said it took only two days.
“It was basically swept under a rug, they did nothing, they said it was unsubstantiated,” Davis said.
On Aug. 14, Davis filed a lawsuit against the Diocese and Garcia under the New York Child Victims Act. A second person has also just filed suit against Garcia, alleging that he too was abused by Garcia as a minor in 1970s at St. Michael’s.
Garcia, who went on to officiate at Joan of Arc Parish in Jackson Heights until April 2019, has denied the allegations.
“The Diocese of Brooklyn categorically denies the allegations made today by Jeff Anderson,” a spokesperson for the Diocese said. “He is well aware of the actions taken by the Diocese of Brooklyn with respect to Monsignor Otto Garcia, yet he is making sensational misrepresentations in order to garner media attention.”
In February, the Brooklyn Diocese released a list of 108 priests that it said had been accused of sexual abuse over the decades. Garcia’s name surfaced, most likely prompted by Davis’ allegation. The report noted that the Diocesan Review Board unanimously determined the allegations against him had been unsubstantiated.
However, others are doubtful of Garcia.
A nun who worked with Garcia told the New York Daily News she wasn’t surprised by the allegations against him.
Sister Sally Butler told the newspaper that she witnessed Garcia downplay multiple sexual abuse complaints involving other priests when he served as vicar general.
At the time, one of Garcia’s responsibilities as a high ranking clergy member within the diocese was to investigate the allegations through interviews with the accused priests and their alleged victims and then make suggestions to local bishops based on his findings.
Butler brought forward three cases of alleged abuse of minors at the hands of priests to Garcia, who largely dismissed them. She told the Daily News he was the fixer, “the Michael Cohen of the diocese.”
At the press conference, Jeff Anderson, the attorney, pleaded that the diocese remove Garcia from his position at the Church St. Teresa in Woodside.
“Bishop, please it’s time. Get him out, get him out now.”