Video: Priest sex scandal

updated 8/15/2005 5:19:11 PM ET 2005-08-15T21:19:11

Monsignor Eugene Clark, director of New York‘s prestigious St. Patrick's Cathedral, has resigned amid allegations of an affair with his long-time secretary, Laura DeFilippo.

Known within the church as a traditionalist, his resignation came after the secretary's husband provided New York City newspapers with videotape that shows the monsignor checking into a Hamptons motel for five hours with DeFilippo last month. 

In his official statement, Monsignor Clark said the events and circumstances have been portrayed in a false and sensational manner. 

Though the tape doesn't depict specific elicit activity, divorce attorney Raoul Felder explains to MSNBC-TV's Dan Abrams what it could mean for Monsignor Clark.

RAOUL FELDER, DIVORCE ATTORNEY: In a divorce case you only have to show opportunity and inclination to show adultery and on the face of it, it looks like that's there.  As you also know, Dan, there's a different standard of proof for adultery.  It's more to the criminal stand.  You have to show clear and convincing.  You need corroboration.  These aren't easy cases and hey, who knows what really happened here.  Human beings have very, very strange relationships and there may have been nothing going on there. 

DAN ABRAMS, 'ABRAMS REPORT' HOST: Yes, and according to the New York Post, DeFilippo's 14-year-old daughter gave police a sworn statement that she saw her mother kissing and sitting in Clark's lap in his hot tub. 

FELDER: Well you know that would disturb me.  It would disturb me because what is a 14-year-old daughter of a mother, giving a statement, and I think if I were a judge, I would look very closely at that.  Fourteen-year-olds are very easy to be coached and it's disturbing.  It's disturbing that the husband is using this as I guess a coercive tactic in a divorce case.

ABRAMS: What's the significance of the fact that she walks in wearing one outfit, and six hours later walks out wearing another.  In a court of law how much?

FELDER: It's all incriminating, but on the other hand, you have a 79-year-old man who may have a truthful story that it was 90 degrees out and they‘re doing work and who knows.  I don't know.  But certainly on the face of it, it's a difficult situation. 

ABRAMS: You haven't been asked to represent anyone in this yet, have you?

FELDER: No, but I‘ve represented priests, rabbis, Greek Orthodox, a Presbyterian bishop, you know, they're human beings and it doesn‘t reflect any religion particularly.  It doesn't reflect their abilities as a priest even.

ABRAMS: Yes, I know, but look, if he was doing this and he's making public statements about the importance of celibacy and he's known as a conservative.  He once referred to the U.S. as probably the most immoral country in the western hemisphere.  I mean if it's true, that‘s serious hypocrisy.

FELDER: Well he may be a hypocrite, but you know, there are hypocrites in my profession and in your profession — it's a human condition.

Watch the 'Abrams Report' for more analysis and interviews on the top legal stories each weeknight at 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC TV.


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