Sentencing Update in Sex Abuse Trial of Former Hyde Park Pastor
The Poughkeepsie and Hyde Park communities were stunned and appalled by the sex abuse scandal surrounding the former pastor of St. Peter's Parish, James Garisto. Parishioners and community members have been awaiting Garisto's sentencing following his plea of "No Contest" back in June of this year.
Garisto's Time at St. Peter's Parish
Garisto was the pastor of St. Peter’s Parish from 1998 to 2014. It was through his actions that the parish acquired the Our Lady of the Rosary Chapel and eight acres on the grounds of the former Hudson River State Hospital. The acquisition resurrected the parish, which was at its lowest ebb in 1998. Since then, Mass attendance had doubled, collections quadrupled, and enrollment in St. Peter’s Catholic School increased by 100 students in three years.
In 2006, when it was announced by the Archdiocese that St. Peter’s Catholic School was to merge with Regina Ceoli Catholic School, Garisto fought to keep the school independent. He was a revered public figure in the Poughkeepsie area. He was reassigned to work in St. Roch's and St. Adalbert's Catholic Churches in 2014 in Staten Island, but he took an abrupt "sick leave" in 2015 causing concern among parishioners about his well-being.
Garisto has been on leave and unable to act as a priest since August 2019, when the archdiocese received its first complaint against him.
Update on the Sentencing of Father James Garisto
Garisto was taken into custody on May 4th, 2022 by Philadelphia police on allegations of abuse against the then-teen. The family has launched a civil lawsuit against the Archdiocese of New York regarding Garisto's conduct.
According to the Poughkeepsie Journal, the alleged victim claims that his "relationship" with Garisto started in 2006. The alleged victim, who is going under the pseudonym ZM, claims that Garisto touched him inappropriately on several occasions between 2006 and 2010, starting when he was 15 years old. The supposed abuse took place on trips to properties owned by Garisto in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and at the church in Poughkeepsie.
On Friday, June 9th, 2023, Garisto pleaded no contest to corruption of a minor and indecent assault. A plea of no contest is a plea in which a defendant in a criminal prosecution accepts conviction but does not plead or admit guilt.
Sentencing was supposed to be held for Garisto on Thursday, September 7th. According to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County Docket, the defense requested and was granted a continuance until November 6th of this year.
This is not the first time Garisto's defense has asked for a postponement, with multiple "Request(s) For Continuance For Further Investigation" on August 2nd of 2022, December 13th of 2022, February 15th of 2023, and April 17th of 2023.
You can view the full docket here: attachment-Adobe Scan Sep 11, 2023
To get a more in-depth idea of the cases surrounding former pastor James Garisto, visit the link above which outlines the timeline of his arrests and the allegations behind them.