|Priest Sex Abuse Hits Close to Home
By MariAn Gail Brow
December 2, 2009
Uncle Charlie held a place of honor and trust in his family. Everyone looked up to him. Along with their respect, they bestowed many honors on him. They chose him to be a godfather of one of their identical twin sons. They allowed him to baptize the boys, serve their first Holy Communion and confirm them as Catholics.
That's what Uncle Charlie, aka the Rev. Charles Carr, did because those are the things priests do. Along the way, however, the reverend committed some unspeakable acts against several young boys, including his godson and nephew, Shaun Peter Carr. For years, the Diocese of Bridgeport knew of the priest's predilection for fondling boys because some parishioners accused him of sexually abusing them.
None of those complaints, however, percolated into lawsuits. That is until Shaun Peter Carr -- who was on the cusp of graduating from college, cum laude, and preparing to marry his fiance -- started talking. He had to.
"All my parents talked about with the wedding was how my uncle, Charlie, how he should marry us," Carr says. Sure they spoke about other things, too, but they always came back to this -- having Charlie marry us."
Up to that point, the only person who knew the details of how his uncle had abused Carr was his fiance. With the release Tuesday of more than 12,000 pages of previously sealed documents concerning 23 victims in lawsuits filed against the Diocese of Bridgeport, the rest of us have an inside view of the brutal secrets young Catholics, like Carr, live with.
"I suppose that if I had kept my mouth shut and kept this secret, he'd have had no problem performing the ceremony," Carr says. "But I couldn't let my parents expect him to marry us when he'd always been there for all sorts of other religious rites ... knowing what I knew. Plus, there was a bigger problem. I was sure that he was still abusing kids, and I felt I had an obligation not just to my family, but to those kids, too. It tore my family apart."
With the exception of his parents, the Carr clan from Long Island won't speak to Shaun Peter Carr. They want to believe he made the whole thing up. So how do they account for the other young boys who came forward after Shaun Peter Carr filed one of the first lawsuits against a Diocese of Bridgeport priest, who just happened to be his uncle?
Pedophilia is a sickness. And nobody ever gets better when the authority that's supposed to provide oversight seeks to sweep incidents of abuse under the clerical rug.
For the first time, both the victims of these priests and the rest of us have a Full Monty on just how the diocese played along with these Pied Pipers of Pedophilia. What emerges from these 12,000 pages of documents is a roadmap of how the diocese, in the name of protecting its image, became complicit in hiding, obfuscating, stonewalling, dismissing and harming children in its flock. Young. Defenseless. Trusting. Sheep to be sure. That, in my mind, makes the diocese, and especially former Bishop Edward M. Egan, and all of the priests in the know, as culpable as their child-preying pedophilic priests.
"Now that these records are public, my name is out there in them," Carr says. "What I'd like people to find out is just what kind of a monster my now defrocked uncle, Charlie, is. His name is not on any sex offender list because he hasn't been convicted of a crime. He's hiding out there in the shadows. Being defrocked as a priest, it doesn't stop him from working as a janitor or being somewhere around kids. What would I like to see happen? Locate this bastard and make sure people are aware of what he's about."
In actuality, the diocese always knew his whereabouts. It moved him from parish to parish and sent him to a treatment center for priests with deviant tendencies. It even returned him to where he could be close to young boys.
But the bottom line is he will remain an accused child molester. That's because the Diocese of Bridgeport never saw fit to alert law enforcement agencies of the complaints against him. If nothing else, once the diocese takes time to assess the impact of its sex-abuse files, it could go a long way toward restoring faith among its parishioners if it vows to report any allegations of sexual abuse to law enforcement authorities. And if the accusations prove true, the kid gloves need to come off. Then there's only one place where these criminals belong: in jail and on a sex-offender list.
Connecticut Post Columnist MariAn Gail Brown can be reached at 203-330-6288 or email@example.com
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