Priest Forced to Defend Himself after Abuse Allegation

Associated Press State & Local Wire
March 24, 2002

The Rev. Joseph Malloy is a popular priest. He also stands accused of fondling a boy 20 years ago.

The victim says Malloy is one of several priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport who preyed on young boys. The priest's supporters say Malloy is the victim.

It has become the priest's word against the young man's.

When diocesan officials informed Malloy early last year that a man had come forward accusing him of sexually abusing him 20 years earlier, he was stunned.

"I was totally shocked, I just couldn't believe it," Malloy told The Advocate of Stamford. "It was like a ton of bricks hitting me. I almost didn't believe it. I almost thought it was like a joke."

Malloy had watched for several years as more and more people had come forward to accuse five priests - Raymond Pcolka, Martin Federici, Charles T. Carr, W. Phillip Coleman and the late Joseph Gorecki - of a range of sexual abuse of minors.

"I just felt sorry for the victims ... and I felt sorry for the priests that had this disease," Malloy said.

But he said he never expected to be accused of anything similar.

The diocese interviewed Malloy after the allegation surfaced last year and deemed the accusation was "not credible." "There was nothing, no slightest thought in my mind that I would ever have something (like that) placed against me," he told The Advocate.

But the accusation was made. A one-time altar boy at Malloy's former parish in Trumbull, St. Catherine of Siena Church, accused the priest of fondling him once while the two were alone in the sacristy 20 years earlier. Malloy said he initially didn't even recognize the name of his accuser.

The accuser has not come forward publicly, and there have been no other complaints against Malloy.

The man says the incident occurred when he was between 8 and 9 years old, according to his attorney, Cindy Robinson. Her firm, Tremont & Sheldon, represented the 26 people who settled claims against the Bridgeport diocese last year.

That the diocese rejected her client's claim doesn't surprise Robinson. She said the church has a pattern of dismissing accusations against its priests as "not credible."

"It always concerns me when they talk about 'credible claims,"' she said.

As he went over the accusation in his head time and time again, Malloy said his emotions ran the gamut. "I probably felt a little bit angry at first, and then confusion about why this would even take place," he said. "Then I just felt sorry (for his accuser)."

Last month Malloy moved from St. Ann parish in Bridgeport - where he served as parochial vicar for 15 years - to be pastor of St. Clement Church in Stamford.

With his name resurfacing last week amid the current scandal, Malloy raised the issue during his homily last Sunday, saying he had been falsely accused.

He said he's received support from parishioners at his new home, as well as a "flood of support" from parishioners at St. Ann and St. Catherine, where he served for 13 years.

"There was never one negative comment or one negative letter sent to me," Malloy said. "It was absolute total support."

However, at least one woman with children active in the parish has approached him about her fears, Malloy said.

"I certainly understand their concerns," Malloy said. "I'm the new kid on the block."

Parishioners at St. Clement are going to have to make up their own minds about Malloy.

"I can understand their concerns," said retired Bridgeport police officer Jim Casey, a St. Ann parishioner. "But I would say trust him and give him a chance."


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