Ex-Monk Resigns in Abuse Case
Lauralton Teacher Resigns As Charges of Sex Abuse Raised Sex Case Forces Teacher to Quit Lauralton Discovers Ex-Monk Defrocked

By Aaron Leo
Connecticut Post [Bridgeport]
June 6, 2002

A former monk who has taught at Lauralton Hall for three years resigned Wednesday after reports emerged that he had been defrocked for allegedly molesting boys in Trinidad in 1997.

Michael Benedict Taylor, 60, left the Catholic girls' school after officials there began looking into his background, according to a statement released by Principal Ann Pratson Wednesday.

Reporters' queries prompted the review.

"Despite the fact that classes at Lauralton Hall have ended for summer recess, our administration immediately began our own fact-finding process," Pratson said in the statement. "As a result of that process, the individual has submitted his resignation, effective immediately."

Pratson declined to comment outside her statement.

In 1997, Taylor was forced to step down as principal of the Presentation Chaguanas school, on the Caribbean island of Trinidad, shortly after several alleged victims came forward, the Rev. Christian Pereira, vicar general of Trinidad, told the Trinidad Sunday Express last week.

Soon after that, church officials compelled him to leave the order, the newspaper reported.

A church committee in Trinidad made the revelations last week. The committee found he was "interfering with boys" over the past decade, the newspaper reported.

A man who did not identify himself claimed in a letter to the newspaper that the former monk had groped him.

That country's authorities did not file criminal charges against Taylor because he left Trinidad before the alleged cover-up was revealed May 30.

Church officials paid off some victims, newspaper accounts stated.

Taylor could not be reached for comment despite a telephone call and repeated visits to his Concord Avenue home in Milford Wednesday.

Pratson declined to comment on the school's hiring process, background check procedure or whether school officials had known of Taylor's background before Wednesday.

The order of Our Lady of Mercy sponsors Lauralton Hall, part of the Hartford Archdiocese.

The Rev. John Gatzak, a spokesman for the Hartford diocese, said the school must perform its own background checks on staff.

"Looking into the background of a specific teacher would be Lauralton's responsibility. The archdiocese does not get involved in teacher hiring," he said. "The authorities at the school would make those decisions."

Officials of the Order of Our Lady of Mercy were not available for comment Wednesday.

A neighbor said Taylor was a nice person who regularly attended St. Ann's Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Thomas Ptaszynski, that church's pastor, said he could not comment because he was new to the church and did not know Taylor.

Another neighbor said he did not know Taylor but was concerned about the molestation allegations in Trinidad.

"I've got little kids," the neighbor said.

Officials at the Hartford office of the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service could not say Wednesday whether Taylor was a U.S. citizen, or if he had authorization to work in the United States.

The accused Taylor is not the same Michael Taylor who is active with the Milford public schools' PTA.


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