Judge Rejects Bid to Transfer Priest Molestation Complaints

Associated Press
February 3, 1999

Lawsuits filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport by 27 people who say they were molested by priests will not be moved to New Haven.

Diocesan lawyers had argued that fair trials would be impossible in Bridgeport because 40 percent of the prospective jurors would likely be practicing Catholics.

Those jurors might be concerned about the effects a guilty verdict might have on their own parish, diocese spokesman Tom Drohan has said.

But Judge David W. Skolnick ruled Tuesday that prospective jurors with opinions about the possible financial impact of a verdict could be dealt with during the selection process.

The first trial is scheduled to begin in June.

The alleged sexual assaults date back to the late 1960s, when the plaintiffs were either altar boys or members of diocesan youth organizations.

Sixteen cases involve the Rev. Raymond Pcolka; four cases involve the Rev. Charles Carr; five involve the late Rev. Joseph Gorecki; and two involve the Rev. Martin Federici.

The suits all claim that diocesan officials knew the priests were molesting children and covered up the abuse by transferring the priests to different parishes.

The diocese previously lost a $ 1 million lawsuit to a Wisconsin man who said he was molested by a Stamford priest in the 1960s. The diocese has also paid more than $ 450,000 in settlements to people who claimed they were molested by diocesan priests.


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