Affair charge rocks cleric

St. Pat's rector accused of trysts with secretary

Wednesday, August 10th, 2005

The Archdiocese of New York is looking into explosive allegations that a top priest who publicly railed against our "sex-saturated society" had a long-term affair with his married church secretary.

Msgr. Eugene Clark allegedly romanced 46-year-old Laura DeFilippo at his Hamptons home and a Long Island motel, according to police and court records.

Questioned yesterday by a Daily News reporter at a Montauk restaurant where Clark and DeFilippo have been seen noshing, the 79-year-old rector of St. Patrick's Cathedral denied he and DeFilippo were lovers.

"Not true," Clark said outside the Surfside Inn.

The accusations against Clark were brought by DeFilippo's husband, Philip, who had an investigator tail the duo to a Hamptons motel - videotaping them last month arriving together and then checking out several hours later.

And in signed statements to Eastchester Police in Westchester County, Philip DeFilippo, his 14-year-old daughter and his wife's sister all describe how the teen allegedly found her mother "sitting on [Clark's] lap wearing a satin teddy."

The girl told police she ran to her room where her mother "yelled at me, convincing me that I didn't see what I saw, and it wasn't what I thought. She told me that he had prostate cancer, and I couldn't tell anyone what I saw or I would be in trouble."

Clark has retained high-powered defense attorney Laura Brevetti, who called the allegations "contrived" and added, "there is nothing to them."

"Msgr. Clark is deeply upset and saddened that innocent events have been distorted and sensationalized causing harm and public embarrassment to Mrs. DeFilippo and her children," she said in a statement.

The archdiocese was unaware of the allegations until The News called Monday seeking comment.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said "we only learned about this last night [Monday], and we have been speaking to Msgr. Clark today to get to the bottom of this," he said.

Laura DeFilippo's lawyer, Michael Berger, called the allegations "baseless" and said her husband was making a "desperate attempt to coerce her to accept her husband's outrageous demands in their matrimonial action."

The developments came as Westchester County Family Court Judge Kathie Davidson granted Philip DeFilippo's request for an order of protection against his wife.

In a statement to police, Philip DeFilippo said that when he told his wife that he had a videotape of her at a motel with Clark, she threatened to "stab me with a scissor or a knife."

Davidson said DeFilippo will be barred from her Eastchester home until Aug. 22, by which time a guardian will have had a chance to question the couple's two children.

She did not speak at the hearing.

Clark hired DeFilippo straight out of high school and presided over her marriage to Philip in Yonkers 20 years ago. She now earns between $70,000 and $100,000 from the archdiocese, her husband said.

"It's the perfect cover," DeFilippo's husband told The News.

Philip DeFilippo, who filed for divorce last week citing adultery as one of the grounds for his action, said Clark was a close family friend and frequently invited them to spend summer weekends at his Amagansett, L.I., home.

"He's a charming, dapper, blue-eyed, suave, quick-witted, fast-talking charmer," he said.

Philip DeFilippo became suspicious when his wife began working late into the night at the Madison Ave. rectory and balked at joining a family vacation at Disney World.

He said Clark took her to Lisbon and to the exclusive Caribbean island of St. Bart's.

When he eventually confronted his wife, she replied: "What are you worried about? He's a priest ... an elderly priest!"

Last month, Philip DeFilippo said he had a private eye tail Clark and his wife to the White Sands Motel in Amagansett. The investigator videotaped the monsignor going into the office.

The Daily News viewed the videotape. After a two-hour brunch on the porch of the nearby Surfside Inn, Clark, dressed in a white polo shirt, was seen wheeling a small black suitcase into the White Sands Motel. His secretary, dressed in short white shorts and a matching top with spaghetti straps, followed him inside with an orange tote bag over her shoulder.

When they emerged about five hours later, the video showed Clark and DeFilippo wearing different outfits.

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