Priest with strong Greenwich ties suspended for sexual abuse

By Ken Borsuk
Greenwich Time
February 4, 2015

The Bridgeport Diocese has suspended a priest with longstanding ties to Greenwich for an alleged incident of child abuse.

Bishop Frank Caggiano released a letter late Wednesday afternoon informing diocese members that there was "credible evidence" that Stephen DeLuca committed one incident of child abuse more than 30 years ago.

DeLuca had been serving as priest in residence at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Riverside and was currently the chaplain at Greenwich Hospital. Before that he had served as pastor of St. Agnes Church in Cos Cob for many years.

The bishop placed DeLuca on administrative leave and ruled that he was no longer allowed to live at St. Catherine or work as a priest. Details about the incident were not released but a diocese spokesman said it did not take place in Greenwich.

"I realize that this is distressing news for you and it further wounds the diocese and our church as a family of faith," Caggiano wrote in the letter published on the diocese's website. "I can only reassure you that we remain committed to a zero tolerance policy for child abuse and total transparency in the handling of cases."

The bishop said the diocese has reached out to the victim and his or her family and "offered assistance to promote healing."

The diocese referred the matter to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families but criminal charges are not being pursued. The statute of limitations for child sexual abuse was only five years when this alleged crime took place.

Caggiano also said he wanted "to be entirely clear that the diocese did not learn about this allegation until recently."

DeLuca had retired as a priest last June. Diocese spokesman Brian Wallace said honorary posts like the one he had at St. Catherine are common for retired priests who still want to serve.

St. Catherine of Siena Monsignor Alan Detscher said Wednesday he had no comment and referred all questions to the diocese's communications office.

DeLuca's strongest ties to Greenwich were at St. Agnes, where he was pastor from 1984 to 2006. No one could be reached for comment at the parish or at Greenwich Hospital Wednesday.

DeLuca also served as president of Greenwich Catholic School's board of directors, as treasurer for the Greenwich Fellowship of Clergy and as a staff member at St. Mary's High School in Greenwich.

"Diocesan personnel will also be on hand as a resource to the parishes in which he served in the coming days," Caggiano wrote. "It is important to note that, other than this reported incident, we are not aware of any other victim that has come forward with an allegation of misconduct by Father DeLuca in any of his previous assignments."

Wallace said that once the allegation was received, the Diocesan Review Board for Sexual Misconduct began an investigation.

"Some of these allegations are not credible, but any time there is an allegation that anyone who works for the diocese did something inappropriate with a child, we investigate," Wallace said. "After it was determined that this was a credible allegation, we contacted the state's Department of Children and Families. Even though this took place more than 30 years ago, we treated it like it took place 30 minutes ago."

DeLuca is not the first priest with ties to St. Catherine to be accused of sexual abuse.

Monsignor William Genuario, who was pastor of St. Catherine for 17 years before retiring in 2004, had been accused of abusing three boys in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The diocese paid settlements for the alleged abuse, in exchange for promises not to sue.

But the diocese in 2009, when the settlements were disclosed, said that no credible claims had been made against Genuario.

A diocese spokesman reiterated that statement Wednesday, adding that Genuario remains a priest in good standing.

After his retirement from St. Catherine, Genuario became a member of the diocese's marriage tribunal.

Volumes of diocese documents that became public in 2009 revealed that earlier in his career, while in the powerful position of vicar general, Genuario had participated in hiding accusations of sexual abuse against other priests.



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