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  Ouster: Two State Priests Lose Their Jobs; One Quits

By Robert A. Frahm
Hartford Courant
April 22, 2002

Two priests have been ousted from their parish jobs and a third has resigned from a Catholic university after admissions of sexual misconduct, the Diocese of Bridgeport announced Sunday.

The cases came to light as Bishop William E. Lori and a newly formed review board examined allegations of misconduct in a growing scandal that has touched Roman Catholic churches in Connecticut and across the United States.

"The evil of sexual abuse of minors calls for a radical new approach," including swift action against priests involved in misconduct, Lori said during a candid press conference at diocesan headquarters.

The Bridgeport diocese, like others across the nation, has been criticized for failing to notify authorities of allegations of abuse made over the years and for allowing priests facing such allegations to continue working.

Lori revealed details of the cases against the two priests after their parishes were told during Sunday Masses the reason for their removals. The priests are:

The Rev. Stanley N. Koziol, 69, assistant pastor of St. Mark Parish in Stratford, where he has worked since 1994. Although no specific complaints were made against him, Koziol acknowledged he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor in the early 1960s, Lori said.

The Rev. Vincent J. Veich, 57, co-pastor of St. Benedict/Our Lady of Montserrat Parish in Stamford, where he has been assigned since 1990. Lori said Veich acknowledged incidents of sexual misconduct with a woman in the late 1970s. The woman, who said she was 17 at the time, approached the diocese with her complaint several weeks ago, Lori said.

Koziol and Veich have been ordered to undergo psychological evaluations.

Lori also announced that Monsignor Gregory M. Smith, 60, who was accused of sexually abusing girls in the late 1960s and 1970s, resigned Saturday as director of the Institute for Religious Education and Pastoral Studies at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield.

Smith, who also is priest in residence at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Bridgeport, said in a letter to Lori, "I truly wish to apologize to those I harmed early in my career." Smith has been removed from his duties as a priest, Lori said.

Lori also revealed the names of two former Connecticut priests who were removed from their ministries five years ago after allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Rev. Joseph P. Moore was assistant pastor of St. Mary Parish in Bethel from 1981 to 1983, and later worked as a priest outside of Connecticut. He lost his authority to work as a priest after a complaint of sexual misconduct resurfaced in 1997. The complaint originally had been made to the Bridgeport diocese when the incident occurred in the 1970s, but no action was taken at the time, Lori said.

Monsignor Charles W. Stubbs also was stripped of his authority to act as a priest in 1997, when the diocese received a complaint about sexual misconduct that occurred in the 1980s. Stubbs was pastor of St. Mary Parish in Greenwich from 1991 to 1996 and worked briefly as assistant pastor at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Newtown in 1997. Lori said there were also "questions of financial impropriety" at the time of his retirement from St. Mary's in 1996.

Specific details of the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore and Stubbs were not available Sunday, said Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Bridgeport diocese.

Lori said that former Bridgeport Bishop Edward M. Egan was involved in the disciplinary action against Moore and Stubbs but was not aware of the cases involving Koziol and Veich, which surfaced only recently.

Egan, who is now archbishop and cardinal in New York, headed the Bridgeport diocese when Smith was suspended in 1997. However, after a psychiatric examination, Smith was allowed to return to the ministry.

Lori, who began a review of personnel files of priests and deacons in the Bridgeport diocese in January, said confronting the issue of sexual abuse by priests has been "an extremely painful thing."

To assist in the review, Lori appointed a 10-member sexual misconduct review board of prominent legal, medical, educational and religious professionals.

He said that he and the new board would "respond swiftly, decisively, fairly and openly to any allegation of abuse." He said such allegations also would be reported promptly to law-enforcement officials. Lori pledged to "do whatever is necessary to restore the trust of the faithful."

In a letter read at Masses throughout the diocese earlier Sunday, Lori said church officials and volunteers must report even the "slightest suspicion of abuse. ... This is not a matter of good public relations. It is the right and only thing to do."

 
 

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