Former Gym Teacher Dies Before Deposition in Sexual Abuse Cases
A former Catholic school gym teacher accused of over 30 claims of sexual misconduct passed away last month. His death leaves his accusers, along with accusers of similar cases, frustrated and confused.
Edwin "Ted" Gaynor Died Before His Deposition
According to Rockland/Westchester Journal News, Gaynor was ordered by a judge to appear for a deposition and produce documents at Ossining Town Court on May 16th or be taken into custody; however, Gaynor died before this could happen. The Rye City Review reported that Gaynor was found dead on May 2nd at the age of 87 by a retired Mount Vernon police detective tasked with serving the accused sexual abuser with court documents pertaining to the lawsuits.
The cases detail sexual assault by Gaynor, who coached at St. Bernard School in White Plains in the late 1950s, Immaculate Heart of Mary in the early 1960s, and Holy Rosary Church in the late 1960s. He was responsible for organizing basketball and baseball programs for children for years. The lawsuits name Gaynor, the Archdiocese of New York, and the Catholic schools as being complicit in a decades-long plot to cover up Gaynor's abuse.
Barbara Hart, the attorney representing 33 survivors who filed claims against Gaynor, said the deposition was long delayed due to Gaynor refusing to be deposed and produce documents, citing health issues and his old age.
The Child Victims Act vs Catholic Institutions
In 2019, the Child Victims Act was passed and gave survivors a window to file civil cases over sexual abuse they suffered as children, well after they had aged out of their right to do so in New York. By the time the window closed in August of last year, 10,800 cases had been filed. The archdiocese has said they aim to resolve all legitimate claims. In 2016, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program was set up by Cardinal Timothy Dolan to compensate victims of sexual abuse by clergy members.
What Does Gaynor's Death Mean?
Since Gaynor's passing, until someone is substituted in the case to represent Gaynor's estate, everything except a search of his apartment is on hold. Hart said neither the archdiocese nor any of the schools where Gaynor worked have produced any records related to him. A search of Gaynor's apartment may uncover records such as pay stubs or sacramental records. In November of 2021, Gaynor had offered written admissions of two counts of molestation, stating "I gave into a sinful sickness when I did 55 years ago, that does not in any way define who I am or my moral concern of right and wrong... I have no idea what causes that, or why it came upon me, but I thank god that it has been totally gone from me for well over 40 years." Gaynor has also gone on to dismiss similar claims against him; however, stating that this has been apart of an "avaricious witch hunt."
What Does This Mean for Similar Cases?
This particular case seems to be merely one of the latest examples of cases such as these being prolonged. Gaynor's death is the latest in a history of frustration from those who filed cases involving the Catholic Church and Catholic institutions, claiming attempts to slow cases as plaintiffs and accused die before a resolution can be reached. Gaynor's case runs parallel to another sexual misconduct case we have reported on, following former St. Peter's Parish of Poughkeepsie pastor James Garisto. Charges of his arrest in January were withdrawn in March to the statute of limitations; while the latest allegations involving his May 4th arrest were within the statute of limitations, so they were able to charge him with a new case. James Garisto has been on leave since 2019, and with claims of dealing with a heart condition.