Greenwich priest named in victims' group petition
By Daniel Tepfer
March 19, 2014
|From left; SNAP, standing
for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, members
Helen McGonnigle, of Brookfield, Barbara Blaine, of Chicago,
Gail Howard, of Redding, and John Marshall Lee, of Bridgeport,
protest outside the Catholic Center on Jewett Avenue in
Bridgeport, Conn. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014. The group
wants Bridgeport Bishop Frank Caggiano to hire a firm to
investigate two local priests accused of abusing children.
Bishop Frank Caggiano has agreed to meet with
representatives of national and local victim support groups who
Wednesday called for him to hire an outside firm to investigate
two priests who have been accused in the past of sex abuse --
including a prominent former Greenwich pastor who has admitted
he hid more than 40 years of abuse complaints.
Blaine, president of the Chicago-based Survivors
Network of those Abused by Priests, said although she is
willing to meet with Caggiano, she would prefer to do so after
he agrees to the investigation.
"History has shown that meetings don't always
bear fruit, but actions speak louder than words,"
It would be the first time that a bishop of the Roman
Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport agreed to meet with SNAP.
Diocese spokesman Brian
Wallace said the bishop was out of the office Wednesday with a
bad cold, but told him, "He is more than willing to meet
with them as soon as possible and is open to discussing the
situation with them."
As of Wednesday afternoon, no meeting date had
The support groups want Caggiano to live up to his promise to be
proactive regarding complaints against priests in the diocese
and to publicly reveal why two priests, Monsignor
William Genuario and Monsignor
Martin Ryan, have been allowed to remain in ministry despite
abuse complaints against them.
"The bishop needs to hire an outside firm to
investigate, someone independent, to determine if these priests
should be in the ministry," said Blaine. She has also
called on the bishop to post the names and photographs of the
priests on the diocese website.
Genuario was pastor of St. Catherine of Siena
Church in Riverside from 1987 until 2004. Currently a member of
the diocese's marriage tribunal, he had been accused of
abusing three boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Ryan was recently appointed pastor of Our Lady of Grace
Church in Stratford despite previously being removed as pastor
of St. Edward the Confessor
Church in New Fairfield for allegedly sexually harassing a
female church employee and being accused of molesting a teenage
girl in Trumbull in the 1970s.
Although the diocese paid settlements for the alleged
abuse, the diocese considers both priests to be in
Genuario is politically connected -- a relative is a
former state Senate majority leader and now judge.
At one time the second most powerful priest in the
diocese, Genuario managed to fend off accusations of abuse and
hide accusations of abuse against other priests for more than 40
years, according to court documents.
Kelly, of Bridgeport, said he informed diocesan officials in
April 2002 that he had been abused by Genuario.
Kelly said in 1967, when he was 13, he and several other
boys went to Expo '67 in Montreal with Genuario. He said
while he was taking a shower, the priest, who was naked, tried
to join him and asked Kelly to wash him.
Kelly said diocese officials offered to provide him with
counseling. While the diocese previously acknowledged the
meeting with Kelly, no action was taken against the priest.
The Bridgeport diocese later, under court order, released
about 12,000 documents pertaining to several sex abuse claims
made against priests during several decades.
Some of those records disclosed how Genuario reviewed sex
abuse complaints against priests and gave orders to move
Genuario in 1978 became vicar general of the diocese, the
right-hand man of then-Bishop Walter
In a 1997 deposition, Genuario testified about his involvement
in handling complaints that had been filed against the Rev. Laurence
Brett in the 1960s, alleging that Brett had been sexually
A male Sacred
Heart University student complained that Brett, then chaplain
at Sacred Heart, had sexually abused him. The incident was
discussed in a letter written by Genuario on Dec. 2, 1964. The
letter states that Brett admitted the incident.
The letter went on to state that Brett was to be taken
away. "A recurrence of hepatitis was to be feigned should
In his deposition, released with other documents, Genuario
admitted that not only did he prepare the so-called hepatitis
letter, but also typed it himself.
Asked why he did it, Genuario said, "I was the vice
chancellor at the time and was called in to (do
By 2003, the diocese had agreed to pay $37.7 million to
settle dozens of claims of sex abuse committed by priests
against minors, many of them altar boys. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org