Fund Loss Discovered after Priest Resigns

By Daniel Tepfer
Connecticut Post
March 15, 2003

BRIDGEPORT — A Roman Catholic priest, who recently resigned after allegations he abused a child years ago

is under investigation after his parish lost $500,000 in an unauthorized brokerage account.

Diocese of Bridgeport spokesman Joseph McAleer confirmed Friday the diocese is investigating actions of the Rev. Robert Morrissey, former pastor of St. Mary's Church in Ridgefield.

He stressed the monetary loss has nothing to do with sexual allegations against the priest.

McAleer said the diocese has hired an independent accounting firm for a full-scale audit of the parish's finances. He said there are no plans to contact police.

He stressed there is no evidence that Morrissey did anything criminal, however, the diocese believes a full investigation is warranted.

"The loss of this amount has come as a great shock and it is important to conduct a thorough investigation," he said.

In December, Morrissey, the Rev. Albert McGoldrick, pastor of St. Paul Church in Greenwich and a judge on the diocesan tribunal, and the Rev. Sherman Gray, pastor of Holy Name of Jesus Church in Stamford, all resigned.

The three priests have been accused of sexually assaulting a now 38-year-old man from 1979 to 1983, beginning when he was 15. The name of the man, now a Roman Catholic priest, is not being released.

At the time, Gray and McGoldrick were assigned to parishes in Stamford and Morrissey was at a Greenwich parish.

McAleer said the allegations have been brought before the diocese's sexual misconduct review board and are under investigation.

Morrissey, 57, a native of Whitestone, N.Y., was ordained to the priesthood in 1976. He has been pastor of St. Mary's since 1992.

Since his resignation, Morrissey has not been assigned to any other parishes. McAleer said the diocese knows where he is.

Following Morrissey's resignation, McAleer said a diocese accounting team went over the parish's financial books and discovered the loss.

He said 18 months ago, Morrissey hired Jim Amrien as a paid consultant to the parish with the title of parish director of development.

While it is not unusual for parishes to hire people to coordinate fund-raising campaigns, McAleer said he is not aware of any other parishes in the diocese that have hired anyone for a development job.

He said Amrien, who is no longer at the parish, transferred money from an existing parish brokerage account to a new account. Trading in this account resulted in the $500,000 loss.

McAleer said he had no specifics about the new account except that Amrien set it up under the supervision of Morrissey. He said establishing and managing the account violated diocesan policy.

The Ridgefield parish, one of the wealthiest in the diocese, is currently raising funds to build a new church. McAleer said he doesn't know whether the loss will affect that.



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