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Specialist to probe bishop case

Albany Diocese turns to former terror prosecutor

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A former US attorney best known for prosecuting terrorism cases will investigate sexual abuse allegations against Albany Roman Catholic Bishop Howard Hubbard, a diocese spokesman said yesterday.

The spokesman said former Manhattan prosecutor Mary Jo White, 56, was chosen by the diocese review board, which is conducting an internal probe into Hubbard, for over 25 years the bishop of the Albany Diocese with about 400,000 Catholics.

"The board members were trying to find someone independent, highly respected, with a history of conducting major investigations," spokesman Ken Goldfarb said.

Since the allegations became public two weeks ago, Hubbard, 65, has denied he knew the two men with whom he is accused of having relationships. Further intrigue was added over the weekend when a priest was found dead in his Albany home two days after meeting Hubbard to deny he wrote a nine-year-old letter that denounced the bishop and accused him of homosexual affairs. Hubbard said the priest, the Rev. John Minkler, 57, asked for the meeting after a local television station ran a story about the letter.

White, US attorney in Manhattan from 1993 to 2002, prosecuted Islamic militants who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Her office also probed the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

White said in a statement that she took the case after she was promised independence, plentiful resources, and the diocese's full cooperation.

The Albany County prosecutor said last week he would not investigate the allegations because there was no proof of a crime.

The allegations against Hubbard surfaced when the family of Thomas Zalay of Albany said Hubbard had a homosexual affair with Zalay. Zalay's brother, Andrew Zalay, said he committed suicide in 1978 at the age of 25 after he apparently became troubled by the nature of his relationship with the bishop.

Then last week, Anthony Bonneau, 40, of Schenectady, N.Y., said Hubbard paid him $20 for sex on two occasions between 1976 and 1979 when he was a runaway teenager.

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