Judge Rules against Church in St. Elizabeth's Abuse Scandal

By Bryan Joiner
Chronicle [Queens NY]
April 17, 2003

A Queens judge ruled against the Diocese of Brooklyn last week, ordering it to reinstate the former principal of St. Elizabeth's School in Ozone Park as part of her $5-million lawsuit against the school.

Judge Duane Alphonse Hart ordered the diocese to reinstate Barbara Samide, 40, and pay her back wages of $30,000 after she was placed on unpaid leave in December. He also ordered the diocese to reinstate Samide as principal of St. Elizabeth's or appoint her to another job.

The diocese can appeal the ruling. The case will continue next month.

Samide was paid for her remaining sick days after she was suspended in September following her allegations of sexual abuse by Father John Thompson, the parish's pastor, but has been without an income since then. She claims the church has prevented her from collecting unemployment, and she still holds the title of principal at the school.

In her lawsuit, Samide claims that during her tenure as principal, Thompson struck her with his belt, and there were other instances of abuse which she only became able to talk about through therapy. She also said that she tried to report the incidents to the Diocese of Brooklyn, which did not help her. Apparently in response to her sensitivity on the issue, Judge Hart sealed the testimony in the case two weeks ago.

Samide first shocked the neighborhood last June when she alleged the priest had embezzled $100,000 from the school. In October, Thompson, 50, pled guilty to embezzling $95,940 from the church to pay for credit card bills, a luxury automobile lease, a vacation rental in Mexico, and a trip to a gay resort in Florida with his lover, who lived in the church's rectory. He was ordered to pay back the church.

Since then, Thompson has filed for bankruptcy and asked for relief on the debt he is repaying the church at $1,500 per month.

Thompson resigned from the church in March, reportedly for health reasons.


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