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Report critical of Bridgeport church leaders’ response to clergy abuse

A new independent report is highly critical of how past leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, responded to reports of clergy sexual abuse dating to the 1950s.

Retired state Judge Robert Holzberg released his report Tuesday during a news conference with Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano.

Holzberg's investigation found 281 people — mostly males between 5 and 18 — were abused by 71 priests since the diocese's founding in 1953.

Holzberg said the response to abuse allegations by previous bishops including Walter Curtis and Edward Egan was inadequate and hostile, and they reassigned accused priests who continued abusing children. Curtis was bishop from 1961 to 1988. He died in 1997. Egan served as bishop from 1988 to 2000 before becoming New York cardinal. He died in 2015.

David DAndrea was 13 years old when he was sexually abused by a priest at St. Roch’s Church in Greenwich. “He said do you know how to wrestle, I said no father I’m a basketball player and I wasn’t I was good I don’t know how to wrestle. He said get down there I’ll show you a few moves and that’s when it began.”

Bishop Frank Caggiano called for this investigation, he told us he believes in order for the church to move forward they must first acknowledge their past. "This is a moment where we can have a full accounting of the past and mindful of all the changes we have made it’s time to move forward in a very deliberate way to renew the church particularly our commitment to young people and young adults who are in many ways our greatest gift. I’ve gone through a very painful and dark chapter but the church is very different now than it was  years ago.”

Read the full report here.

While the report is extensive, key highlights were pulled:

  • The abuse had a wide range of physicality, sometimes becoming violent, along with explicit or implied threats if the victim went to law enforcement, according to the report. Had the priests been referred to law enforcement authorities, the report says many of them would have been subject to prosecution, conviction, incarceration, and registration as sex offenders.
  • The report goes on to say that the sexual abuse resulted in physical and psychological injuries over the years.
  • The report said that the clergy sexual abuse of minors was already happening in 1953 when the diocese was established. The abuse then peaked in the decades of the 1960s, '70s, and '80s.
  • The report went on to say that around 281 minors have been identified as having suffered from clergy sexual abuse, most of which have been documented.
  • The abuse was by as may as 71 priests, the report said, 10 of which were responsible for 61 percent of all of the reported incidents.
  • The diocese paid more than $55 million in settlement amounts
  • The report states Raymon Pcolka was the priest with the most sexual abuse reports again him, the number of victims being 28.
  • Ages of those abused range from 5-18 years old.

 

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