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  I Want to Do This Right' Lori Reiterates Remorse over Sex Abuse, Leaves Questions Unanswered

By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post
March 20, 2002

Bishop William E. Lori on Tuesday faced a sea of media flooding him with questions about complaints of abuse by priests in the diocese.

And while the bishop, celebrating the first anniversary of his installation as leader of Fairfield County Catholics, assured all that he is doing everything possible to protect children from further abuse, he left many questions unanswered.

As the press conference was about to begin in the lobby of Kolbe Cathedral High School, diocesan officials abruptly escorted a Monroe woman, who claims to have been abused as a teen by a priest, and her husband from the building.

As she was led out, Peggy Fry, 51, said she just wanted to hear what Lori had to say.

"She wasn't going to start screaming at him [Lori]; she was just there to listen," said her husband, Bill Fry. "I don't know why we couldn't be there."

Lori reiterated his remorse over instances of abuse and said he is committed to following diocesan policy. He said last week that he established a panel of experts to assist him in evaluating his actions.

"I want to do this right. I want to do this for the good of the children I serve. This is not about public relations," he said.

He refused to comment on documents showing that his predecessor, Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, shifted priests accused of abuse from church to church.

News stories detailing these accusations have appeared in the Connecticut Post dating back to 1993. Most recently, those claims were detailed in last Sunday's Post.

"We can all have 20/20 hindsight. The cardinal has left behind a magnificent diocese," Lori said.

But the bishop did not respond to questions about complaints made against active priests in the diocese. Asked if he was willing to publicly release the names of priests who have been accused of abuse he said, "Sorry, no more questions."

Fry claims in a Superior Court lawsuit that she was abused by Monsignor Gregory Smith in the late 1960s. However, in 1997, a judge dismissed the suit because it was filed after the statute of limitations expired.

Lori says he has reviewed the files of all priests in the diocese and found that none pose a risk to children. But he has not personally talked to any alleged victims in making that determination.

In an interview with a Post reporter, Fry said she had written numerous letters to Egan while he was bishop asking him to hear her allegations but she said he never responded. Fry said she has since written Lori and is awaiting a response.

"I had hoped that from what I read, that the bishop would be sympathetic to what I have to say," she said.

Fry claims she was molested by Smith when she was 16 and 17 and a member of the youth group at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull.

Brought up in a devout Catholic family, she said her mother encouraged her to go on trips and to spend time with Smith.

"She often said God had picked me because Monsignor Smith wanted to spend time with me," she said.

Fry said she later complained to Monsignor William Genuario about the alleged abuse and he told her to pray for forgiveness.

Smith, who currently is assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel on Ortega Avenue in Bridgeport, didn't return calls for comment.

Diocese officials have refused to comment on Fry's allegations.

Contact: dtepfer@ctpost.com

 
 

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