Man who settled sex abuse case with Albany Diocese to meet bishop before Sunday Mass

The first alleged church sex abuse survivor to settle with the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese is taking another step in his healing process.

Stephen Mittler will publicly meet the bishop this Sunday before mass on the same church steps where he says he met his alleged abuser, Father Mark Haight, at Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake. NewsChannel 13 spoke with Mittler Wednesday.

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Bishop Edward Scharfenberger accepted Mittler’s invitation for a public meeting after he sent a letter. Mittler recently settled for $750,000, after he says the diocese threatened to file for bankruptcy if the case went to trial.

He shared photos with NewsChannel 13 showing his young life at the time when he met Haight in 1988 — his family attending Corpus Christi church every Sunday. At 12 years old, photos show him at Haight’s cabin and riding in his plane.

He says that’s when Haight cozied up to his family and sexually abused him dozens of times. Now, he’s hoping to empower other survivors searching for healing.

“All the post-trauma therapy has at least helped me understand it’s not my fault, there’s no shame and it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he said.

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He’s hoping the meeting Sunday with the new bishop moves the healing process forward, but he puts the blame squarely on the former bishop for the harm he says was done to him and others.

“It’s frustrating, right? I mean, Howard Hubbard is the one responsible for me meeting Mark Haight. That should have never happened. He’d already been to treatment once, he’d been asked to go to treatment two times before, and because of Howard Hubbard, I went through this process of being abused,” Mittler said.

Hubbard has denied all the allegations against him. The Diocese told NewsChannel 13 on Wednesday they have no comment, except to confirm that the bishop will be present Sunday.

You can catch more of Mittler’s interview this Sunday on NewsChannel 13.   

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