Bridgeport Diocese Settles Sexual Abuse Claim

August 1, 2006,0,5299371.story?coll=ny-region-apconnecticut

Bridgeport, Conn. (AP) _ The Bridgeport Diocese has agreed to pay a settlement to a former Bridgeport man who said he was sexually abused by a priest while a high school student in the late 1970s.

Terms of the settlement, which was negotiated with U.S. Magistrate William I. Garfinkel, were not disclosed.

Lawrence Freeman, 43, now lives in Washington state. He said he was abused on numerous occasions by the Rev. James Gildea, who was a guidance counselor and teacher at Notre Dame High School in Fairfield from 1976 to 1979.

Gildea died in 1986.

James Stapleton, the lawyer who represents the diocese, said the diocese does not admit liability.

"These were alleged incidents that occurred 30 years ago by a priest who died 20 years ago," he said. "There was nothing in his file at Notre Dame High School or at his religious order of any complaint against him."

However, Stapleton said the diocese settled another abuse claim against Gildea brought by a former Notre Dame student.

"That person didn't want anything disclosed," he said.

Cindy Robinson, Freeman's lawyer, said her client urged the diocese to notify other former Notre Dame students who may have been abused by Gildea.

Stapleton said he does not know if the diocese will agree to do so.


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