2011-04-22 / Front Page

Brother Tom Absolved

By Nicholas Briano

Sexual abuse charges for longtime St. John’s Residence for Boys executive director, Brother Thomas Trager, have been dismissed this week, the Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced.

The charges, which included claims that he sexually abused a 16-year-old resident of the home, were dismissed because the prosecution failed to provide credible proof and sufficient evidence to warrant presentation to a grand jury. As a result Trager, 72, who has been out on $15,000 bail since his November arrest, is a free man.

Trager, a Marianist for more than 50 years, is a well-known figure in the community who has served the Rockaway Park residence for more than 30 years. Not surprisingly, many people were shocked to hear the news of his arrest. The District Attorney alleged that Trager had sexually abused the teen since August 2009 in locations that included his apartment and car, according to the initial criminal complaint.

Trager exclaimed “Alleluia! Easter will be special for me this year,” in an e-mail sent to supporters obtained by The Wave that spread the news of his dismissal.

“In their close to six months of investigation, the District Attorney’s office found nothing that would make the case worthy of presentation to a grand jury,” Trager told supporters in the e-mail. “My accuser refuses to continue to maintain his allegations and cooperate with the DA’s office.”

The St. John’s Residence for Boys, located at 144 Beach 111 Street, is a live-in facility and school for children and teens that have been categorized as a “person in need of support” by New York State courts. Often the children who reside there suffer from emotional and behavioral problems. St. John’s Residence for Boys Board of Directors Vice President Mike O’Shea says Trager proclaimed his innocence from the outset and the Board of Directors are pleased with the outcome.

“Brother Tom at all times adamantly denied the charges and is comforted by the fact that the District Attorney, after a review of the case, chose not to present these charges to a grand jury,” he said.

As far as his future with the home, O’Shea says it’s to be determined.

“The Board of Directors will be discussing with Brother Tom his plans for the future.”

Trager however, told supporters that he plans to resume his role at the home as soon as possible.

“I will be able to return to my community and work for St. John’s when the Office of Children and Family Services for the State of New York agree the charges were unfounded.” The Queens District Attorney released the following statement after the case’s dismissal.

“The District Attorney’s office has declined to prosecute charges brought last November against Thomas Trager following a further investigation of the case. As a result all of the charges against the defendant have been dismissed and the record sealed at the request of our office,” a spokesperson for DA Brown said.

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