The first alleged survivor of church sex abuse to settle with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is taking another step in his healing journey.
Stephen Mittler will meet the Bishop publicly 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 on Wednesday.
Bishop Edward Scharfenberger accepted Mittler’s invitation for a public meeting after sending a letter. Mittler recently settled for $750,000, after he said the diocese had threatened to file for bankruptcy if the case went to trial.
He shared photos with NewsChannel 13 showing his young life when he met Haight in 1988 – his family attending Corpus Christi Church every Sunday. At age 12, photos show him in Haight’s cabin and on his plane.
He says that’s when Haight got close to his family and sexually abused him dozens of times. Now he hopes to empower other survivors seeking healing.
“All the trauma therapy has at least helped me understand that it’s not my fault, that there’s no shame and that it’s okay to be vulnerable,” he said. he declares.
He hopes Sunday’s meeting with the new bishop will move the healing process forward, but he blames the former bishop squarely for the harm he says has been done to him and others.
“It’s frustrating, isn’t it? I mean, Howard Hubbard is the one who introduced me to Mark Haight. This should never have happened. He had already been in treatment once, he had been asked to go to treatment twice before, and because of Howard Hubbard, I went through this process of abuse,” Mittler said.
Hubbard has denied all allegations against him. The diocese told NewsChannel 13 on Wednesday that it had no comment except to confirm that the bishop will be in attendance on Sunday.
You can see more of Mittler’s interview this Sunday on NewsChannel 13.