|Ex-Bridgeport Priest at Center of Pedophila Scandal Reportedly Dies
January 5, 2011
A former Bridgeport priest and notorious child abuser in the 1990s who had escaped federal authorities apparently has died on the Caribbean island of Martinique.
The Rev. Laurence Brett died on the island where he was living under an alias, The Hartford Courant reported, citing a French newspaper and government sources.
Brett had been a central figure in a string of pedophilia allegations that rocked the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport. Many of those allegations resulted in lawsuits in the 1990s, often for incidents that stemmed from the 1960s and '70s.
"Many victims feel a sense of release when their predator passes," said David Clohessy, director of The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, "and we certainly hope that the dozens of people who were assaulted by Brett feel at least some degree of closure knowing that he will never ever again be able to abuse another life."
Clohessy said he has worked to help several victims of Brett's abuse in the last 21 years.
The diocese settled two lawsuits from two former altar boys who said that Brett molested them during the 1960s.
And in 1964, the parents of a Sacred Heart University student complained to diocesan officials that Brett had nearly bitten off their son's penis while performing oral sex on him.
Another man who met with a diocesan official to complain that Brett abused him later committed suicide.
Following a meeting between then-Bishop Walter Curtis and other diocesan officials, Brett was sent to a monastery in New Mexico. A memo written after the meeting states that should anyone ask about Brett's absence, officials would say only that he was suffering from a bout of hepatitis.
With Curtis' blessing, Brett later went on to minister in California and Maryland, where he left a trail of young abuse victims, according to documents.
In 1990, then-Bishop Edward Egan, of Bridgeport, wrote a letter to Brett, who was living in a Baltimore suburb, and told him he would be welcomed back to the diocese.
Brett did not pursue that offer, and he subsequently disappeared.
In 2002, Bishop William E. Lori disciplined two diocesan priests after it was learned they had been aware Brett was living on the island of St. Maarten. Lori removed Brett from the priesthood.
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