2 Priests Disciplined in Shielding Sex Abuser
Both Knew Caribbean Location, Never Told Lori
By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post [Bridgeport CT]
September 1, 2002
Bishop William E. Lori formally admonished two priests in the diocese who concealed the whereabouts of the Rev. Lawrence Brett, a notorious child abuser who had been sought by the FBI.
"I am gravely disappointed by this news," Lori said Saturday. "The failure of these priests to report Lawrence Brett's location violates the Diocese's Sexual Misconduct Policy and its mandated reporting of information relating to the protection of children. It also runs the risk of undermining the trust of the faithful in their pastors and in the Church itself."
Brett was recently discovered by The Hartford Courant living on the island of St. Maarten. The newspaper also reported that Brett's whereabouts had been known by Rev. David W. Howell, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in South Norwalk, and another unnamed priest in the diocese.
Lori said the other priest who admitting knowing where Brett was is the Rev. Gerald T. Devore, pastor of St. Maurice Parish in Stamford.
Diocese Spokesman Joseph McAleer said Saturday he could provide no explanation why the two pastors hid Brett's whereabouts.
"My understanding is that it was one priest reaching out to another priest in friendship and it did not include financial support," he said.
While Howell has a timeshare on the Caribbean island, he said Brett was living in his own condominium.
Lori said Howell and Devore will live in a religious house for "an indeterminate period of serious prayer, acts of penance and guided reflection on their responsibility as a priest and pastor for the well-being of the Church." In addition, they will receive additional training on the prevention of sexual misconduct and on the mandated reporting responsibilities of clergy and lay employees of the Diocese of Bridgeport.
"This incident is a strong reminder to everyone in the Church and in society at large that we must remain vigilant when it comes to the protection of our children," Lori said.
"I think it is a standup move for Bishop Lori to take," said Anthony Cardone, who was abused by Brett in the early 1960s when he was an altar boy at St. Cecilia's Church in Stamford. "He did the right thing pulling them out of service."
Parishioners of Saint Joseph Parish and St. Maurice Parish were told of their pastors' actions at Saturday afternoon Masses.
Lori said while they are away, their duties will be assumed by the assistant priests at each parish.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1965, Howell, 60, has been pastor of Saint Joseph Parish since 1986.
Devore, 65, ordained in 1962, has been pastor of St. Maurice Parish since 1985.
"Both priests have expressed remorse for their actions," Lori said. "With the help of this period of imposed penance and by their future conduct, they hope to restore their trust in the eyes of the faithful of the Diocese."
Now that Brett has been found, Lori said the Diocese will consider laicizing him, a process that would result in his permanent removal from the priestly ministry. The diocese had begun that process under Bishop Edward Egan but then stopped it without explanation.
The diocese settled two lawsuits from Cardone and Frank Martinelli, who claimed Brett molested them at St. Cecilia's Church in Stamford in the early 1960s. Cardone's lawsuit was settled less than two weeks ago.
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.
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, Egan wrote a letter to Brett, who was then living in a Baltimore suburb, and told him he would be welcomed back to the diocese.
In May the diocese settled claims by two Maryland men who said they were molested by Brett while they attended Calvert Hall, a private high school in Baltimore, in the 1970s.
McAleer repeated that Lori had no knowledge of Brett's whereabouts. On learning of the whereabouts of Brett from the Hartford Courant on Aug. 28, he said the diocese informed the civil authorities in Connecticut and Maryland. In addition, he said the diocese will notify the authorities in New Mexico, California and Saint Maarten.
He also adamantly denied the accusation from Martinelli that outgoing chancellor Monsignor Laurence Bronkiewicz knew where Brett has been.
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