Mass. DA Says NY Officials Trying to Protect Lorch

The NY Daily News reports that an outgoing Massachusetts prosecutor has stated that New York officials are trying to protect accused sex abuser Ernest Lorch, founder of the famed Riverside Church basketball program.

An extradition hearing was postponed again Monday because New York state officials said Massachusetts authorities failed to send them all of the required paperwork.

But the prosecutor who brought the sex abuse case to a grand jury told the Daily News that New York officials were looking for an excuse to “protect” Lorch, who was indicted in October for allegedly molesting a 17-year-old basketball player during a trip to Amherst for a basketball tournament in the 1970s.

“New York is demanding things never demanded before for a governor’s warrant,” said Jane Mulqueen, the outgoing chief of the child abuse division of the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office, to the Daily News. “Why they are trying to protect this guy, I don’t know.”

Mulqueen officially resigned from the DA’s office on Dec. 31, but she said she was remaining on the job until Wednesday, when DA-elect David E. Sullivan assumes office. She said Lorch will continue to be prosecuted by the office, which serves Hampshire and Franklin counties in western Massachusetts.

Mulqueen said New York officials requested an affidavit last week from a trooper who arrested Lorch at a Westchester County assisted-living facility on Nov. 3, after Lorch failed to appear for arraignment in Massachusetts.

New York officials wanted the officer to explain how he knew the man in the assisted-living facility was the same Lorch charged in the indictment with attempted rape and indecent assault and battery of a person over 14. The maximum penalty for both counts is five years in state prison.

“I don’t know if they are bowing to pressure, but they are making us jump through hoops we’ve never had to jump through before,” said Mulqueen, who said the trooper’s affidavit was sent to New York officials last week.

The Ernest Lorch who founded the Riverside Church basketball program in the 1960s – and who has been dogged by sex abuse allegations for years – appeared in state court in White Plains Monday for an extradition hearing that was adjourned until Feb. 2. A Dec. 3 hearing had been postponed because officials said then-Gov. David Paterson had not signed the warrant required to send Lorch to Massachusetts.

Lorch’s attorney, Frederick Cohn, said he would fight extradition, claiming that the indictment, which says Lorch assaulted the alleged victim between March 1977 and April 1978, is too vague. Cohn also said the charge of indecent assault and battery of a person over 14 years did not exist until two years after the alleged attack. Cohn did not return calls from the Daily News.