EXCLUSIVE: Hartford Archdiocese clergy sex abuse investigator details process

HARTFORD -- The Catholic Church is rooted in faith but mired in accusations of some priests preying on children. Victims are now coming forward claiming clergy violated their most sacred trust.

For many religion is their moral compass for a mortal life. You confess your sins — and now, church leaders are seeking a repentance of their own. “To be frank, the Archbishop knows that he is going to get what he is going to get.”

Fox 61 sat down for a candid conversation with the retired judge Antonio Robaina. He’s leading the independent investigation into clergy sex abuse. We asked, “How can hired and independent go together? “ The condition of the hiring is independence. It says in the agreement that we have that we are working independently and have no supervision and no restriction,” explained Robaina.

He’s been granted unprecedented access to church records. Robaina will be pouring through documents dating back to 1953.

Q: How do you plan on approaching your investigation?
ROBAINA: “Well that’s a great question because the immediate problem is a logistical one the volume of records is huge.”

This crisis of faith is affecting the church financially. They’ve paid out $51 million to settle 140 lawsuits involving credibly accused clergy.

Q: “How are you going to define the term credibly accused in your investigation.”
ROBAINA: “I think we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. I’m not committed to adopting the churches own term or their own criteria.”

In January, 48 new priest names were revealed by the Archdiocese. The next day, victims advocacy group SNAP claimed names were omitted. “It’s our intention to speak with that group or any group of victims. I’ve already been contacted by some victims,” explained Robaina, None of 48 names are still serving the church, but what if Robaina found one who was?

Q: “You are not going to wait until the end of that investigation to make that public, are you?”
ROBAINA: “To be clear, it’s not my job to make things public. It’s up to the archdiocese whether they make that public or not. I certainly would contact the archdiocese about something like that.”

In the meantime, the church is making their own reforms. They now screen against homosexuality.

Q: “Do you think that there’s a direct inherent connection between gay clergy and child sex abuse?”
ROBAINA: “I doubt that very much.”

And what about the alleged pedophile priest pipeline between the church and the Institute of Living in Hartford where clergy were sent to be rehabilitated.

Q: Was that a cover up?
ROBAINA: “Whether I’m going to realistically be able to determine that from looking at these records I don’t know. I think some of that would be speculative.”

Q: “What is going to come out of your investigation? Are you going to lay out a set of facts or are you also going to be making recommendations to the church?”
ROBAINA: “I hope to do both.”

Judge Robaina said he doesn’t have a timeline to finish the investigation. He’s breaking it into 10 years chunks. Robaina himself was raised Catholic but say he’s not religious and will be letting the facts, not his faith, inform his findings.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.