|Predator Lives at Day Care Center, Groups Say.
April 25, 2011
They want state officials to investigate immediately
Alleged child molesting cleric was “outed” last month
“Several sources” tell VOTF & SNAP he’s in Bristol CT
Credibly accused pedophile also spends some time at a camp
Two groups dealing with the Catholic abuse crisis believe that a suspended and alleged child molesting priest lives at a Bristol day care center and is urging the state officials to investigate the matter.
Leaders of a self help group called SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) and the Hartford chapter of VOTF (Voice of the Faithful) say they are “worried about the safety of kids near Fr. Richard P. McGann” and have contacted the Connecticut Department of Public Health, which oversees day care facilities.
Last month, SNAP disclosed that the Hartford Catholic archdiocese paid “a substantial settlement” to a man who reported being repeatedly sexually abused as a child by McGann. In response to that event, church officials admit having suspended McGann from active ministry in 2005 but refuse to say why.
Since then, SNAP has heard from “numerous sources” that McGann lives at the Pumpkin Patch Day Care Center (31 Root Ave., Bristol) which is run by Debra Zakrzewski. In her 2002 bankruptcy filing, Zakrezewski lists McGann as a co-owner of a 1991 Gulfstream Motor Home and claims $269 a week income for cleaning services at a church. (SNAP suspects but can’t prove that it is McGann’s former parish).
“We’re scared because these links and these individuals convince us that McGann is, in fact, around vulnerable kids at this day care center,” said David Clohessy, SNAP’s director.
“Until weeks ago, McGann had never been exposed as a credibly accused child molester,” said Jayne Dirish of VOTF. “So we worry about kids at the center - or elsewhere in Bristol and other Connecticut towns - who may have been sexually assaulted by McGann.”
SNAP questions whether McGann or Zakrzewski may have broken or be breaking any laws or regulations governing a child care facility.
“We don’t know what laws or regulations McGann may have violated. But we do know that a number of signs support the veracity of what we’re being told about McGann living at a day care center and being credibly accused of molesting a boy. And we know that often, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,’” the groups wrote in its letter to state officials. “
SNAP says it has also been told, by several current and former Bristol residents, that McGann drives a silver Chrysler and works now at H&R Block (in the New Britain area). Sources also tell SNAP that McGann sometimes stays in a trailer he owns at Klondike Camp near Otis in western Massachusetts and with a relative on Lynn Road in Bristol near Stafford School.
Both groups are also harshly criticizing Mansell and other Hartford church staffers for refusing to tell parishioners and the public the reasons for McGann’s temporary ouster.
“If McGann was not ousted because of child sex abuse accusations, why won’t Mansell say so?” questioned Clohessy. “This continuing secrecy is reckless and callous, and puts more kids at risk of being violated.”
McGann’s alleged victim, Jeff Libby, is in prison in Maine for murdering his grandfather in 1986. SNAP and experienced therapists who have evaluated Libby strongly believe McGann’s abuse contributed significantly to Libby’s crime.
At a news conference last month in front of Hartford’s Catholic cathedral, SNAP provided copies of a draft 2009 lawsuit and a previously secret, six-page 2009 settlement between Libby and McGann. That settlement agreement is posted at BishopAccountability.org
McGann reportedly violated Libby between 1975-77 at St. Gregory’s Catholic church (235 Maltby St., ) in Bristol CT. McGann molested Libby in the rectory and elsewhere, including out-of-town trips. The abuse, which included forced oral and anal sex, started when Libby was 12 years old.
Libby is sentenced to serve 60 years. He’s now at Maine State Prison in Warren, Maine (his home state). Now in his late 40s, Libby is now represented by Maine attorney Richard Olson (207 871 7159) and Hartford attorney David Jaffe (860 522 3343).
SNAP is also writing Archbishop Mansell, prodding him to beg other McGann victims to call police so the cleric might be prosecuted and kids might be protected.
SNAP strongly suspects that Mansell is hiding the names of other proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics. It is urging Mansell to disclose the identities of all other child molesting church employees – whether lay or ordained, alive or dead, religious or diocesan, and current or former workers. SNAP also want the names, and info about each employee’s crimes, posted on church websites.
SNAP believes McGann also worked at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Plainville, CT and at a local hospital.
A copy of the VOTF and SNAP letter, sent today by fax and email, is below:
April 21, 2011
Dr. Jewel Mullen, Commissioner
Connecticut Department of Public Health
410 Capitol Ave.
P.O. Box 340308
Hartford, CT 06134-0308
Ms. Debra JohnsonCT Dept. of Health
Dear Dr. Mullen and Ms. Johnson:
We represent two groups that care about child sex abuse victims. One is a Catholic reform group called VOTF. The other is a victims’ support group called SNAP. Our goal is to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We need your help regarding Fr. Richard P. McGann, a suspended and credibly accused child molesting priest.
We’re told by at least six sources (with whom we’ve been in touch repeatedly in recent weeks), that McGann lives at facility a licensed by your agency: the Pumpkin Patch Day Care Center at 31 Root Ave. in Bristol CT. It’s run by Debra Zakrzewski).
We KNOW, from a 2002 bankruptcy filing, that Zakrzewski
-- lists McGann as a co-owner on a 1991 Gulfstream Motor Home and
-- claims $269 a week income for cleaning services at a church.
We have been TOLD that this church was McGann’s parish.
We KNOW that McGann’s employer, the Hartford Catholic archdiocese, has
-- made no public announcement of the suspension at the time,
-- won’t say why they ousted him, but
-- has a serious need for priests so only suspends clerics when facing serious allegations,
-- paid a substantial settlement to a man who accused McGann of molesting him roughly 200 times, and
-- has had weeks to contradict or explain any of this information or these allegations but hasn’t.
We also KNOW that McGann’s accuser
-- has been deemed credible by at least two civil attorneys,
-- shows all the typical, tragic signs of most child sex abuse victims,
-- has little or nothing to gain (beyond his own healing and the protection of others) by speaking up now,
We also KNOW that McGann
--has had weeks to contradict or explain any of this information or these allegations and
--has had ample time to hire an attorney to do that for him (but apparently hasn’t).
We have also been TOLD (but have not been able to confirm) that one concerned citizen
--brought concerns about suspicions behavior around kids to Catholic officials in the mid 1990s
--was accompanied by a witness. But despite pledges that "we'll take care of it," no action was apparently taken.
Let’s be clear – we know of no pending or past criminal charges or civil litigation against McGann. We are not in any way advocating any violation of any of his Constitutionally-guaranteed due process rights.
At the same time, however, we are worried about kids who are at, and have been at, the day care facility in Bristol.
Given all of this information and these reports, for the safety of kids, we urge your office to immediately investigate these reports and take the strongest possible action to warn parents and protect kids. We beg you to do all that you can to quickly but thoroughly look into this troubling situation. If other state agencies, including law enforcement, might be helpful, we urge you to prod them to act as well and pass along this information to them.
We hope you will do all in your power to investigate the allegations again McGann and the day care center where we strongly believe he has lived and is living. We aren’t police or prosecutors. We don’t know what laws or regulations McGann may have violated. But we do know that a number of signs support the veracity of what we’re being told about McGann living at a day care center and being credibly accused of molesting a boy. And we know that often, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” (Remember: Al Capone was nailed on tax evasion.)
Maybe Zakrzewski lied on her licensing application. Maybe she or McGann has broke or are breaking some other regulation. We’re not concerned about how your agency (or other agencies) investigates or acts to better protect kids in this situation. We ARE concerned, however, that SOMETHING be done and some probe is begun.
Thank you. We hope to hear from you soon.
Voice of the Faithful
West Hartford CT
Executive Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790
Outreach Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688, 314 503 0003
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