A man has filed suit against the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island and two churches alleging that as a boy he was sexual abused by the Rev. Paul Wancura from 1978 to 1985. The suit filed in State Supreme Court seeks $20 million in damages.
In 2018, the 87 year old Wancura died in a grisly murder. The police call the killing “not a random incident.”
Retired, Rev. Wancura had assisted with services in several Episcopal parishes, including Holy Trinity in Greenport and Caroline in Setauket. It was there that Lew H. Crispin III of Buncombe County, North Carolina, alleges in the suit that Rev. Wancura abused and sexually assaulted him on a “regular and ongoing basis for a period of approximately seven years, beginning around 1978, when Plaintiff was about eight years old, and ending in or about 1985, when Plaintiff, then about 15 years old, was baptized and confirmed and then immediately ceased attending Caroline Church, never to return.”
The suit claims church officials were aware, or should have been aware, that Rev. Wancura was a sexual predator of children. Rev. Wancura, the suit alleges, “was under the supervision, employ, direction, and/or control” of the diocese and the Caroline Episcopal Church of Setauket, and “owed a duty” to protect Mr. Crispin “and other persons in their care or custody from the Reverend’s propensity to molest children. Defendants knew, or were negligent in not knowing, that the Reverend posed a threat of sexual abuse to children. Defendants also failed to take appropriate measures to evaluate the Reverend’s employment and fitness at the time he was assigned to and permitted to serve at Caroline Church.”
Denise Fillion, director of communication for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, told the Reporter in a statement that Bishop Lawrence Provenzano “is deeply concerned about the allegations outlined in the lawsuit and has referred this matter to the diocesan attorney.”
More from the Reporter:
“There were elements of the crime that led us to believe that, whoever did this, planned it and knew what they were doing going into it,” Det. Beyrer has told the Reporter. “We don’t believe that the person or persons who did this thought they were going into an unoccupied house.”
A memorial service was held at a packed St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on the Island a month after Rev. Wancura died in May 2018. Speaker after speaker, from the Island and from Caroline parish, rose to testify to the deceased churchman’s kindness, empathy, humanity, sense of community and commitment to others.
At the time of his death, General Seminary posted a remembrance of the Rev. Wancura.