|Former Teen Accuses 3 Clerics
Scandal Pushes Resignations 3 Area Priests Quit after New Sex Charges
By Daniel Tepfer
December 14, 2002
BRIDGEPORT - Three Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport priests resigned Friday after a man claimed they sexually abused him when he was a teenager 20 years ago.
The Rev. Robert Morrissey, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield; the Rev. Albert McGoldrick, pastor of St. Paul's Church in Greenwich; and the Rev. Sherman Gray, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stamford, all resigned after being confronted with the allegations, said diocese spokesman Joseph McAleer.
"The resignations should not necessarily be viewed as an admission of guilt and the priests have not forfeited their rights to due process. But since they now have no parish assignment, their authorization to function as priests has been removed," he said. The diocese said they three resigned for the good of the church.
The three priests were accused of sexually assaulting a man, now 38, from 1979 to 1983, beginning when the man was 15. The name of the man, locations of the alleged assaults and circumstances were not released.
At the time of the alleged molestation, Gray and McGoldrick were assigned to parishes in Stamford and Morrissey was at a Greenwich parish.
Bridgeport lawyers Jason Tremont and Douglas Mahoney, who represent the victim, said the complainant met with Bishop William Lori on his own last week to inform him of the incidents.
"The victim has cooperated with the diocese investigation and will continue to do so, including providing witnesses and other documentation," Mahoney said.
Neither lawyer would discuss what witnesses and documentation their client might have, but Tremont said he found his client's allegations to be "very credible."
"I am greatly saddened by this tragic situation," Lori said Friday. "So many lives have been upset and disrupted by this news, including the victim, the priests and their respective parish communities. I regret that the diocese is facing such a sad situation during this holy season of Advent.
"But, like my brother bishops, I remain committed to following the [U.S. bishops' new national policy] faithfully and thoroughly so that no one who works for the Catholic Church will pose a threat of any kind to a child or young person," he added.
McAleer said Lori has met with the three priests. The allegations, he said, have been brought before the diocese's sexual misconduct review board and the diocese has notified the state Department of Children and Families.
As required by the new national policy approved by bishops on handling priest abuse cases, McAleer said the canonical process has been launched to determine whether the allegations are true.
"The diocese takes these allegations very seriously and is committed to following the procedures set forth in the Charter and Norms [as the abuse policy is known] to their conclusion," he said.
McAleer said these are the first accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor made against each of the three priests.
The priests will not face criminal prosecution on the allegations, if proven, because the statute of limitations has passed.
Morrissey, 57, a native of Whitestone, N.Y., was ordained as a priest in 1976.
In 1977, he was assigned to St. Lawrence Church in Shelton; served from 1978 to 1982 at St. Mary's Church in Greenwich; from 1983 to 1984 at St. Clement's Church in Stamford; from 1985 to 1986 at St. Joseph's Church in Danbury; and from 1988 to 1989, he was on duty outside the diocese. From 1990 to 1992, Morrissey returned to St. Joseph's Church, and was pastor of St. Mary's since 1992.
In the midst of growing publicity about diocesan priests accused of abusing children, parishioners at St. Mary's said Morrissey took the pulpit last year and announced there had never been an allegation of abuse against a priest at his parish.
"Father Morrissey is an absolutely wonderful priest and I hope everything comes out well for him," said Frank Foyt, a deacon at St. Mary's. "It's just an accusation."
Gray, 59, a native of Montague, Mass., was ordained a priest in 1970.
From 1971 to 1973, he was assigned to St. Mary's Church in Greenwich; from 1974 to 1975, he was at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome; from 1976 to 1981, at St. Maurice's Church in Stamford; in 1982 he was at the Theological College in Washington, D.C.; from 1983 to 1985, he was at Mount St. Mary's Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.; and in 1986, he was at St. Bernard Church in Riverdale, Md. He has been pastor of Holy Name since 1987.
McGoldrick, 52, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., was ordained a priest in 1978.
From 1979 to 1980, he was assigned to St. Mary's Church, Stamford; from 1980 to 1984, he was an official with the diocesan tribunal; from 1985 to 1986, he was at Divine Word College, Washington, D.C.; in 1987, he was at Our Lady of Peace Church in Stratford; in 1988, he was at Assumption Church in Westport; from 1989 to 1994, there is no listing for his service in the diocesan directory of clergy; in 1995, he was appointed a judge in the diocesan tribunal; in 1998, he was at Notre Dame Church of Easton; and in 1999, at St. James Church in Stratford. He has been pastor of St. Paul's since 1999.
McAleer said this weekend Lori will visit each parish where the three priests last served, In addition, at all Masses this weekend at every parish in the diocese, a representative of Catholic Charities will be present to speak about the counseling services available to parishioners and their families, he said.
Friday afternoon a letter was sent to parents of students in St. Mary Regional Elementary School in Ridgefield, informing them of the resignation of their pastor. McAleer said a Catholic Charities specialist will be at the school Monday morning to talk to faculty on how to answer questions from students.
Temporary replacements have been appointed at each of the parishes where the accused priests stepped down.
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