Cardinal Egan Named in Priest, Sex Suit

By Alan Cohn
March 31, 2009

[with video]

News Channel 8's exclusive look into the lawsuit

Bridgeport (WTNH) - What did the Cardinal know and when did he know it? For years, attorneys, without success, have been trying to question New York's Cardinal Edward Egan about a priest he supervised while Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese.

The former priest, John Castaldo, is a convicted sex offender, and he's being sued for at least the third time for allegedly molesting a young boy.

And the cardinal is being named as a defendant in the law suit.

The alleged victim News Channel 8 spoke to revealed he will not settle this case until he and his attorney have the opportunity to force Cardinal Edward Egan to answer their questions. They want to know why Cardinal Egan ordained Father John Castaldo despite being warned this man was not fit to be a priest.

It was the late 1980's at St. Theresa's Catholic Church, in Trumbull, when a young charismatic priest stepped into the parish.

"I remember him being introduced to the class as a new priest at St. Theresa's," said David an alleged victim of Father Castaldo. "He was telling jokes and things like that."

At first David, who is now 34, nor any of the other boys in his CCD class had any real reason to fear. But, that would change. It turns out the newly ordained priest, with the friendly smile, was actually a "pedophile monster" as he would later be described.

"I had two encounters with him of a sexual nature," David said.

David doesn't want his last named used or his face shown. But for the first time, he's talking publicly about his claims of being sexually abused at least twice by Father Castaldo.

"They were very scary," said David.

The alleged abuse forever changed his life and how he viewed his religion.

"The one in the church was after confession," David said.

It's a story unfortunately heard far too often since the church sex scandal first made news over 20-year ago. What makes this particular case different?

The Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese, at the time, ordained Father Castaldo despite allegedly being given information about the priest's bizarre sexual behavior at the seminary and a warning not to hire him.

That Bishop would later go on to be known as current day's Cardinal Edward Egan; the retiring Cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York.

"Cardinal Egan knew of the bizarre behavior on the part of Castaldo, did nothing to fire him although records interestingly, but not surprisingly, show that he was moved around to different parishes and exposed to any number of children," said David's Attorney Joel Faxon.

Egan is now being sued by David. Attorney Faxon, argues the Cardinal, who at the time was the Bishop of Bridgeport, ignored the church's own psychological assessments that noted Castaldo "was fearful of his own aggressive drives" and "was preoccupied with his unresolved sexual urges."

Cohn: "Isn't it quite possible that he might say I might be ultimately responsible but this one got past me; I was not aware of Father Castaldo's problem?"

Faxon: "Well when information is directed to the Bishop and the Bishop ignores it, or claims he didn't read it, that is clear mismanagement."

So what does now Cardinal Egan have to say? News Channel 8 faxed a copy of the lawsuit to his spokesman and were told the Cardinal was made aware of it. But when News Channel 8 tried to get his reaction, he said, "I'm not being sued for anything."

Cohn: "You are being sued by a Connecticut man who says you transferred Father Castaldo."

Egan: "No way, I don't think you're right. But you can check, I don't know that. I wouldn't say that unless you are sure of what you're talking about."

The church has settled at least two other cases against Father Castaldo, one of which was filed by a former alter boy at St. Theresa's.

Eventually, Castaldo was appointed by the church as "Spiritual Advisor" at Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford until his arrest and conviction in 2001. He was charged with soliciting a 14-year-old boy on the Internet who turned out to be a police officer in New York State.

Castaldo has been defrocked by the church and today resides in New York and on New York's sex offender registry.

"From what I now know, he should have never been in contact with any children, [nor] in any position of authority; they knew that, his superiors [knew that]," said David.

Cohn: "If there's anything you could say to Cardinal Egan, what would that be?"

David: "Well, I would hope he would start to take these cases more seriously."

In a previous case, Father Castaldo admitted in a deposition to having a "sickness" before and after his assignment at St. Theresa.

As for Cardinal Egan, he was served with the lawsuit even before News Channel 8 faxed it to his spokesman.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.