ALBANY, N.Y. – A priest was found dead two days after meeting with a Roman Catholic bishop over a 1995 letter alleging the bishop was part of "a ring of homosexual Albany priests."
The Rev. John Minkler, 57, was found dead Sunday in his home in Watervliet. Police there won't say how or when Minkler died.
"He was very disturbed that his name was associated with this letter and he wanted to assure me that he was not its author," Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard said Monday.
Last week, Andrew Zalay said Hubbard had abused his brother, Thomas Zalay, 30 years ago. Thomas Zalay committed suicide in 1978.
Hubbard has maintained he has never broken his vow of celibacy and has denied ever sexually abusing anyone. He also says he has handled all claims of abuse by clergy seriously and has dismissed several abusive priests.
Minkler was ordained in 1972 and had been chaplain of the Stratton Veterans Administration Hospital (search) in Albany for about 20 years.
"This is a tragedy no matter what the circumstances," Hubbard said. "A priest has died and I have great sympathy for his family and they will be very much in my prayers."
Prosecutors have declined to investigate the 30-year-old claim against Hubbard, saying the allegation didn't represent a crime. The Albany Diocese (search), which represents more than 400,000 Catholics, has said it will hire its own investigator to look into Zalay's claim.
A copy of the 1995 letter to the archdiocese in New York City surfaced following a press conference last week called by a lawyer who has represented several alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. The Albany Diocese in a statement issued Monday said Minkler was identified as the letter's author in a television news report.
"The purported letter" to the late Cardinal John O'Connor (search) was denied by Minkler in a written statement and no such letter was found in the files of the archdiocese, according to the Albany Diocese statement.