OF BRIDGEPORT CT
Credibly Accused Priests: 32
Total Priests: 1,279
Persons Making Allegations: 107
Settlements with Victims: $37,700,000
Data since 1953, when the diocese was founded.
See the Dallas Morning News database entry on Bishop William Lori. and former bishop, now Cardinal Edward Egan of New York NY. The June 2002 database examined the records of bishops and identified those who had allowed accused priests to continue working or had otherwise protected priests accused of sexual abuse. The database is relevant to the bishops' "Nature and Scope" study because the bishops who prepared the surveys for the study are in many cases responsible for the "scope" of the problem.
Moving Forward, Diocese of Bridgeport Announces "John Jay Data," 50-Year Analysis
Diocese of Bridgeport
February 15, 2004
BRIDGEPORT, Sunday, February 15, 2004, 1:00 p.m. – The Diocese of Bridgeport today released details of a 50-year analysis of the role of those clergy who were involved in the abuse crisis.
The data shows a very small number of clergy were involved in this issue.
The analysis surveyed the 1,279 priests who have served in Fairfield County since the founding of the Diocese of Bridgeport on August 6, 1953.
Authorized by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in Article 9 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the analysis is part of a national study of all 195 dioceses and eparchies in the United States, conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The national study will be released on February 27. Catholics in Fairfield County were informed of the release of the Diocesan analysis during Masses this weekend.
"The John Jay analysis for the Diocese of Bridgeport represents
an important step in our desire to let everyone know what took place,"
Bishop William E. Lori said. "Going forward, we have a strict and
comprehensive policy in place to maintain, to the best of our ability,
a safe environment for every man, woman, and child in the Diocese."
Very Small Percentage of Priests
"The Diocesan data for the John Jay Study," Bishop Lori observed, "demonstrates that a very small percentage of priests who served in Fairfield County were accused of abuse, and that the majority of these allegations date back 30 and 40 years."
According to the dictates of the John Jay study, the Diocese of Bridgeport examined each priest who served in Fairfield County for evidence of allegations of sexual misconduct. These priests were Diocesan, members of a religious order, or visiting the Diocese.
Dioceses were required to report any and all evidence, whether an anonymous note or a random mention. No names were used in this study. Many of the allegations date to the 1960s and 1970s, pertain to priests long since deceased, and have little or no factual evidence to support the allegations.
The vast majority of allegations were brought to the attention of the Diocese in the last 10 years. The Diocese has had a strict Sexual Abuse Policy in place since 1991.
"Even one allegation is too much, no matter when it occurred," Bishop Lori pointed out. "Our mission is to create an environment where these sins can never be committed."
Of the 1,279 priests, 32 priests, or 2.5 percent, have had allegations of sexual abuse brought against them. Of these 32, 27 priests were ordained by the Diocese of Bridgeport. Five were ordained by religious orders or were visiting the Diocese on assignment.
Regarding the identity of these 32 priests, the names of 23 priests have already been made public by the Diocese. Of the remaining nine, seven are deceased, and two are priests from another diocese who were visiting Fairfield County.
"No priest in active ministry today in Fairfield County poses a threat of any kind to a child or young person," Bishop Lori said.
Last October, as part of the announcement of a global settlement, the Diocese released details about settlement payments made over the past 50 years. This information is also part of the John Jay Study.
Since its founding in 1953, the Diocese of Bridgeport has dispensed $37.7 million in financial settlements to resolve claims of sexual abuse. This figure includes the $21 million settlement announced in October.
The $37.7 million was funded by insurance claims, the sale of undeveloped surplus property, and returns on investments set aside specifically for this purpose.
No funds for these settlements were from the Annual Bishop's Appeal, Faith in the Future, individual or group contributions to the Diocese, or parish collections.
Commitment to Safe Environment
"As a Diocese we have demonstrated our sincere commitment to implement the provisions of the Dallas Charter and the accompanying Norms, and involve everyone – clergy and laity – in the creation of a Safe Environment," said Bishop Lori. "As we move forward, we acknowledge the failings of the past, will learn from them, and pledge to respond to future allegations of abuse with compassion and to the letter of the law."
Since his installation as Bishop of Bridgeport in March 2001, Bishop Lori has made the safety of children and the promotion of a Safe Environment a number one priority. Under the Safe Environment Initiative, launched in June 2003 and presently under way, all 20,000 clergy, lay employees, volunteers, and contractors who assist the Catholic Church in Fairfield County are undergoing criminal background checks and mandatory awareness training. A dedicated Diocesan department, the Office of Safe Environments, oversees the program and monitors compliance throughout the County.
In October 2003, an independent audit found the Diocese to be "in total compliance" with the Charter and Norms, and, in some cases, exceeding the strict requirements.
"Nothing is more important than the safety and welfare of our young people," Bishop Lori added. "We are proud of our efforts to promote a Safe Environment and will remain vigilant and proactive."
(For more information on the Safe Environment Programs of the Diocese of Bridgeport, click here.)
John Jay Study Data: Diocese of Bridgeport
The following information was submitted by the Diocese of Bridgeport
to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Total number of allegations of sexual abuse received by the Diocese of Bridgeport between 1953 and 2003, including anonymous claims and undocumented claims: 109 by 107 individuals (one person made three claims)
Of these 109 allegations, 95 were brought to the attention of the Diocese of Bridgeport in the last 10 years.
The allegations are claimed to have occurred during the following time periods:
The 109 allegations involve 32 priests, or 2.5 percent of the total number of priests who have served in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Of these 32 priests:
* 27 of the 32 priests were ordained by the Diocese of Bridgeport.
* $37.7 million has been paid in financial settlements
to resolve claims of sexual abuse.
* approximately 41 percent was covered by insurance claims.
* approximately 59 percent was funded through the return
on Diocesan investments or the sale of surplus property.
Church to give unprecedented abuse report
Associated Press, carried by New Haven Register
February 16, 2004
BRIDGEPORT — The Bridgeport Diocese received allegations of sexual abuse against 32 priests since 1953, church officials announced Sunday as part of a national survey.
The Roman Catholic Church will make an unprecedented, nationwide accounting of abuse claims and costs later this month. Some bishops already have started releasing local figures.
Bridgeport’s data, released Sunday, showed that the majority of the abuse was alleged to have happened between 1960 and 1980.
Of the 32 priests accused of abuse, officials said they have already identified 23. Of the remaining nine, seven have died and two were visiting from other dioceses, officials said.
"No priest in active ministry today in Fairfield County poses a threat of any kind to a child or young person," Bishop William Lori said in a statement Sunday.
The 32 priests, representing 2.5 percent of the total number of priests who were in the diocese in the same time period, were the subjects of 109 allegations from 107 people, according to the report.
Parishioners were told of the data during Mass this weekend. As part of the survey, dioceses are reporting the data to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Church officials are also required to release details about financial settlements to resolve abuse claims.
Bridgeport officials said they have paid $37.7 million in settlements.
That includes a $21 million settlement announced in October with 40 people who said they were molested by priests.
Officials said in October that all prior settlements totaled about $16.7
million, accounting for the $37.7 million total.
As part of a national survey, church officials announced Sunday that the Bridgeport diocese has received allegations of sexual abuse against 32 priests since 1953. The 32 priests, representing 2.5 percent of the total number of priests who were in the diocese in the same time period, were the subjects of 109 allegations from 107 people, according to the report.
"I believe the number is clearly too low," said Jason Tremont, an attorney who has represented abuse victims in two settlements with the church. "It's bad enough over 100 people were molested by priests in this diocese. But unfortunately, I believe the numbers are significantly higher."
Former Bridgeport Bishop Walter Curtis, who served for 27 years and retired in 1988, kept a secret archive and admitted destroying records, Tremont said. The diocese did not report abuse allegations to authorities or record complaints in some instances, he said.
Curtis was the predecessor of New York Cardinal Edward Egan, who was Bridgeport bishop from 1988 to 2000. Egan was accused by Tremont's firm of allowing known sex abusers to remain active priests.
"I can only imagine the actual number of victims abused by priests in the Bridgeport diocese and how many of the complaints were ignored or records of complaints simply destroyed," Tremont said.
Anne Barrett Doyle, who serves on the national voting council of the lay reform group Voice of the Faithful, also said church files were destroyed when Curtis was bishop.
"We should assume the number is much lower than the real number of abusive priests who have served in the Bridgeport diocese," Doyle said. "I'm concerned about the credibility of the numbers."
The Roman Catholic church will make an unprecedented, nationwide accounting of abuse claims and costs later this month. Some bishops already have started releasing local figures. As part of the survey, dioceses are reporting the data to the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
The diocese acknowledged that Curtis testified as part of the litigation that he destroyed files, but said they have no knowledge of the contents. They said the diocese is committed to being open and honest and responding swiftly to allegations.
"The Diocese of Bridgeport stands 100 percent behind the statistics it reported to John Jay College of Criminal Justice," Joseph McAleer, spokesman for the diocese, said in a statement. "All records were examined as part of the study. These records are extensive and date back to 1953."
Doyle and Tremont said the reported number of allegations shows the severity of the crisis. Tremont credited Bridgeport Bishop William Lori with improving the diocese's handling of abuse cases and making a good faith effort for the survey.
"He can't include data that doesn't exist any more," Tremont said.
Doyle objected to a self-reported survey.
"The bishops are responsible for the crisis," Doyle said. "We shouldn't be asking the people responsible for the crisis to also assess the scope of the crisis."
Bridgeport's data showed that the majority of the abuse was alleged to have happened between 1960 and 1980. Of the 32 priests accused of abuse, officials said they have released the names of 23. Of the remaining nine, seven have died and two were visiting from other dioceses, officials said.
"No priest in active ministry today in Fairfield County poses as threat of any kind to a child or young person," Lori said in a statement Sunday.
Lori should disclose the whereabouts of the priests no longer in active ministry, Doyle said.
"Bishop Lori is responsible for making sure no child is molested by any of those priests he knows about," Doyle said. "They are really let loose in society once the church gets rid of them."
McAleer rejected that assertion, saying the diocese keeps in close contact with the inactive priests to ensure they do not attempt to resume public ministry.
Church officials are also required to release details about financial settlements to resolve abuse claims. Bridgeport officials said they have paid $37.7 million in settlements.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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