On Friday, Sept. 1, the Diocese of Syracuse was notified that Father Nathan Brooks had been charged with three misdemeanor counts relating to a relationship with a minor. On Saturday the 2nd, Bishop Douglas J. Lucia was at the vigil Mass at the Church of the Nativity at St. Leo in Tully to be with parishioners who were no doubt shocked and dismayed by the news.

The Bishop visited the other two parish worship sites, Immaculate Conception in Pompey and St. Joseph in LaFayette, the following Sunday morning. At press time, his plan was to be with the merged congregations this past weekend as well. The administrator of the parish, Father Brooks has been suspended from all priestly activities and ministry while the investigation continues. He is not currently in residence at any diocesan property as part of the suspension.

Deputies with the investigating agency, the Cortland County Sheriff’s Office, took Fr. Brooks into custody; he has entered not-guilty pleas during court arraignments. The charges are endangering the welfare of a child, forcible touching and third-degree sexual abuse. The incidents took place between 2019 and 2021 according to authorities.

In his statement released on Sept. 1, Bishop Lucia expressed deep sorrow at the news.

“I ask that you join me in praying for all parties involved as well as continuing to be ever vigilant in adhering to our Diocesan Code of Conduct and Safe Environment Protocols,” the Bishop said.

The charges come in the wake of the recent announcement of a settlement in bankruptcy court to provide compensation, monetary and non-monetary, to past victims of abuse.

“This is distressing news, most certainly to me, and to all of you,” the Bishop wrote. “As a Catholic family, we have been on a journey of trying to make amends for the great harm that was caused in the past and now we are faced with this situation.” Citing the Memorandum of Understanding with the local County District Attorneys, Bishop assured all that the diocese has and will continue to fully cooperate with the Cortland County District Attorney’s office to investigate the charges.

Anyone with questions or concerns regarding this situation should reach out to the Diocesan Safe Environment Office at 315- 470-1465 or jbressette@syrdio.org.

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