SNAP Calls on 2 Conn. Bishops to 'Come Clean' and Reveal Identities of Predators

By Ed Stannard
New Haven Register
March 29, 2011

[settlement agreement]

HARTFORD Holding a secret settlement agreement with a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, advocates called today for two Connecticut bishops to "come clean" and reveal the identities of predators.

David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, held a press conference in front of the Cathedral of St. Joseph on behalf of Jeffrey Libby, who settled with the archdiocese in 2009 for an undisclosed sum. Libby is now serving 60 years in a Maine prison for the murder of his grandfather, whom Clohessy said also abused Libby.

He would not reveal the amount of the settlement, which was redacted on the document.

Later Monday afternoon, Clohessy and supporters stood in front of the Diocese of Bridgeport's offices, where he talked about three others accused of sexual abuse.

The settlement with Libby, which Clohessy said was previously kept secret, concerned the Rev. Richard McGann, who served parishes in Bristol and Southington and whose current whereabouts could not be determined.

Between 1975 and 1977, Clohessy said, Libby was "abused in some of the most horrific and egregious ways by Father McGann over 200 times, by his own estimation."

Clohessy said McGann may have worked in the archdiocese "as recently as last year." However, archdiocesan spokeswoman Maria Zone said that isn't true. "He's been on administrative leave since 2005, which means he cannot serve as a priest in any shape or form," Zone said.

Clohessy said SNAP wants Archbishop Henry J. Mansell "to come clean, to honor his promises to be open and transparent and warn people about McGann and about any other proven, admitted or credibly accused child-molesting priest in this area."

He said 24 bishops have posted identities of sexual predators on their websites, "a bare minimum that any Catholic prelate can do to save our kids."

Libby was sentenced in 1986 to 60 years in prison and is in his early 40s, Clohessy said. He has made one unsuccessful attempt to be released early and has "expressed his sorrow, his regret and his remorse" about the crime.

"Jeff was abused starting at age 12," Clohessy said. "His life went into a pretty severe downward spiral, which is so often the case."

He addressed Libby's credibility, saying he "has nothing to gain and everything to lose" by going public and that it's especially difficult to do so while living "in a hyper-masculine, violent setting like a prison."

Also, Clohessy said, "Why on earth would the archbishop settle a lawsuit just two years ago for a substantial amount of money with a convicted murderer unless the archbishop was convinced that Jeff was telling the truth?"

Zone said she could not comment on settlements but said "child sexual abuse is a despicable crime and the archdiocese is not going to tolerate it." She said the diocese requires all parish employees and volunteers over 18 who oversee children to complete a Safe Environment Program, including background checks and a training session on sexual abuse awareness.

A spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, led by Bishop William E. Lori, did not immediately respond to a message left seeking comment.

Call Ed Stannard at 203-789-5743. Follow us on Twitter @nhregister.


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