Egan Denies Coverup in '88 Priest Sex Case

By Dave Goldliner
Daily News
April 13, 2002

Another sex abuse scandal from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., had Edward Cardinal Egan on the defensive yesterday, as charges surfaced that he protected a priest who had an affair with an underage girl while Egan was bishop there.

The girl was 15 when she began her relationship with then-Rev. Joseph DeShan in 1988, according to published reports.

[Photo Caption - New Scandal: Edward Cardinal Egan heads to sacristy of Saint Augustine Cathedral in Bridgeport, Conn., in 2000. Photo by AP.]

She became pregnant in September 1989, two months after her 16th birthday.

According to published reports, DeShan informed the Diocese of Bridgeport that he had carried on a sexual relationship with the girl. The priest then took a leave of absence and later left the priesthood.

But in a joint statement, Bridgeport and New York church officials denied that Egan or any top church official knew that DeShan was having sex with a teenager.

"DeShan never informed then-Bishop Egan that he had had sexual relations with a minor," said a joint statement issued by the Diocese of Bridgeport and the New York Archdiocese.

Details in dispute

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said the priest did not reveal the affair to top church officials until 1994, when he formally left the priesthood.

Even then, DeShan never revealed the girl's name and did not say that she was underage, Zwilling insisted.

But Egan and his aides made no attempt to discover the identity, age or gender of DeShan's lover, Zwilling acknowledged.

Unlike New York, Connecticut requires church officials to report cases of suspected sexual abuse, including statutory rape, which is a felony.

The woman, a single mom now struggling to raise the priest's daughter, said the church was protecting the priest.

"People shouldn't be naive," the woman told the Hartford Courant. "The church hides things, too."

The revelations in Connecticut came as the Brooklyn Diocese gave prosecutors the first files on 15 priests accused of sexually abusing children. The files include eight Brooklyn priests and seven from Queens, sources said.

Files on about 20 other priests who have faced sex abuse allegations - some dating back more than two decades - are expected next week, law enforcement sources said.


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