Church Scandal Hits Home

By Aaron Leo
Connecticut Post [Bridgeport]
June 8, 2002


For evidence that the sex scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has international ramifications, look no further than here.

The city made national news this week when it emerged that Michael Taylor, a Trinidadian monk defrocked in 1997 for allegedly molesting boys, was teaching at Lauralton Hall, a private Catholic girls' school.

He resigned Wednesday and his whereabouts are unknown, although he has not been charged with a crime. School officials said he told them he had done nothing wrong.

It's a ripple effect of the wider church scandal, said the Rev. John Gatzak, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Hartford.

"It sure seems as if the floodgates have opened up," he said. "It encourages people who have been abused years ago to come forward."

The story emerged after Curtis Williams, a reporter from the Trinidad Express, visited the state this week to track Taylor down.

He had been investigating the 1997 allegations against Taylor in Trinidad and Tobago, which he said church officials had covered up until recently, paying the accusers off and expelling Taylor.

In late May, on the heels of the U.S. scandal, the Trinidad and Tobago's vicar general made public the allegations about Taylor, who had been principal at Presentation Chaguanas School on the Caribbean island, Williams said.

A church committee had found Taylor had "interfered" with boys at the school.

Taylor has not been charged with any crime. Trinidadian police are investigating an allegation against Taylor, said Everald Snaggs, deputy police commissioner of Trinidad.

Officer Vaughan Dumas, Milford's police spokesman, said the department has received no complaints about Taylor.

But U.S. and Trinidadian authorities have an agreement to assist one another, Williams said, meaning police here must arrest Taylor if a warrant is issued in Trinidad.

Meanwhile, Lauralton officials and students said Friday that Taylor was a "fine teacher" and a religious, "Christian gentleman" who liked to pray in the school's chapel.

"I was shocked and dismayed to hear of the allegations," said Karen Yardley, the academy's president.

Taylor passed a criminal background check by State Police when he was hired three years ago, and he had papers to work in the United States, she said.

Lauralton students who are preparing for today's graduation ceremony seemed unfazed by the news.

"I don't think there's anything to worry about," said Lauralton freshman Jen Schrader of Trumbull.



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