More claim abuse by Troy priest

Alleged victims come forward after the cleric is placed on leave

Section: Capital Region,  Page: D8

Date: Tuesday, January 29, 2008

TROY - At least seven men have come forward in the last week to claim they were sexual abuse victims of a Troy priest.

The Rev. Gary Mercure, 59, pastor of the Sacred Heart and St. William parishes in Troy, was granted a paid leave of absence by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany after he was accused on Jan. 11 of sexual misconduct with a teenage boy in the mid-1980s. The subsequent allegations stemmed from Mercure's time at Our Lady of the Annunciation in Queensbury and St. Teresa of Avila in Albany.

Mark Lyman, regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said more people contacted his organization about Mercure than after any priest previously accused of abuse.

At a SNAP news conference in Latham on Monday, four men accused Mercure of having abused them as boys, and Lyman said three others contacted him with similar claims.

Michael Flynn, 44, recalled that when he was a 15-year-old altar boy at St. Teresa, Mercure "groomed" him by taking him out to movies and to McDonald's. Flynn, of Clifton Park, said Mercure exposed himself in front of him.

"This is not about religion," said Flynn, who noted that he still considers himself a Catholic but he is angry at church leaders for not eliminating pedophiles. "This is about a man hiding behind religion. He's hiding behind God."

Mercure, who was ordained 33 years ago, also served at St. Mary's in Glens Falls and St. Mary's in Clinton Heights.

Two other men, who would not give their names, said they were abused by Mercure for years, starting when they were 8 and continu ing until they were 14 or 15. One man, now 35, said Mercure raped him while on vacation with his family in South Carolina.

The priest's other accuser sat silently in the audience until the rest had spoken. He then stood up, sobbing, and said he could not remain quiet any longer about his own abuse by Mercure.

Diocese spokesman Ken Goldfarb acknowledged that the diocese received other calls of complaint after Mercure was publicly accused. He said no other formal complaints were filed with the diocese.

A complaint was filed against Mercure about a decade ago by a man over an "adult situation," Goldfarb said. The relationship was consensual, and "appropriate action" was taken, he said.

Allegations against Mercure have been referred to a Sexual Misconduct Review Board, comprised of clergy and lay people. The board's review is expected to take months.

Scott Waldman can be reached at 454-5080 or by e-mail at