Activists Identify Accused Priests
The database names 273 priests, those convicted or included in the settlement of civil lawsuits and those with criminal or civil cases pending. Another 290 priests, listed only as "name withheld," are those accused of child sex abuse but who have no cases currently pending.
A group of Boston-area Roman Catholics, SurvivorsFirst.org, unveiled its database as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops conducted a four-day meeting in Washington. The bishops plan to revise a policy adopted last June to deal with allegations of sexual abuse of minors by clergy and are expected to approve the revised policy today.
Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori, who was a member of a commission that met in Rome in October to revise the policy, said it does not renege on their commitment to remove all molesters from active ministry.
"We have not backed off in any way from that commitment," he said Monday.
Lori said the Vatican mainly wanted to make explicit that accused priests have a right to a church trial to defend themselves, which was only implicit in the original plan.
Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, said Tuesday he was not familiar with the SurvivorsFirst database to be able to comment on it.
McAleer did say Lori has repeatedly affirmed that the diocese is committed to an open communications policy. He pointed out that its own Web site has an archive of news releases that name priests accused of sexual misconduct once a review board has deemed the allegations to be credible.
"Bishop Lori has pledged to deal with all accusations of sexual misconduct swiftly, decisively, fairly and openly. And, openly means having honest and thorough communications," McAleer said.
The SurvivorsFirst Web site fails to identify by name at least 14 priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport who have been accused of sexually molesting young people. Six of the 14 are apparently included in the Web site's list of those not specifically identified.
Paul Baier, a software entrepreneur who led the project, said organizers were "incredibly cautious" about choosing the priests it would identify Baier's group has allegations from victims against 2,100 clerics in its files, but only named those identified in public reports, he said.
SurvivorsFirst names five priests from the Bridgeport Diocese who have been convicted or sued for sexual abuse:
+ Alfred Bietighofer: accused of molesting four boys between 1976 and 1982 at Blessed Sacrament Church in Bridgeport.
+ Lawrence Brett: accused of abusing two dozen children and young boys in Connecticut, New Mexico, California and Maryland since the 1960s.
+ W. Phillip Coleman: accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a boy in Norwalk in the early 1980s.
+ William D. Donovan: pastor of Holy Family Church in Fairfield and a former teacher at Fairfield College Preparatory School, admitted to having a sexual relationship with a young man.
+ Thomas Ahearn: convicted of giving a young teen alcohol in a motel room. He was acquitted of molesting a boy, 16, on a 1993 ski trip in Massachusetts but was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and sentenced to two years probation in 1994. Ahearn, who is currently on a leave of absence from the priesthood, was a priest at St. Mary Church in Bethel.
The database information was culled mostly from newspaper articles.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not undertaken a complete count of molestation cases since victims began going public in 1985.
Tracking the abuse crisis just this year, the Associated Press has found at least 325 priests have been removed or resigned from their posts because of abuse allegations.
Fourteen priests from the Diocese of Bridgeport who were accused, but not placed on the SurvivorsFirst.org list are:
+ The Rev. Raymond Pcolka: accused by 16 people of sexually assaulting them in the rectories of Bridgeport and Stratford churches and at a cabin in New Hampshire in the 1970s and early 1980s.
+ The Rev. Stanley Bonaszek: recently accused of sexually assaulting a former altar boy at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Bridgeport in 1985.
+ Joseph DeShan: In 1988 he began a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old girl while he was assigned to St. Augustine's Cathedral. The girl became pregnant in 1989 and DeShan was subsequently laicized.
+ Richard Grady: previously pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Bridgeport and St. Leo Parish in Stamford. He was accused of molesting a boy in the early 1980s. He died in 1993.
+ Charles Stubbs: accused in lawsuits of sexually abusing boys from 1967 through 1971 at St. Ann's Church in Bridgeport, the former Notre Dame Boys High School in Bridgeport.
+ Stanley Koziol: admitted having sexual misconduct with a boy in the early 1960s.
+ Vincent Veich: admitted sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl in the late 1970s.
+ Monsignor Gregory Smith: admitted he molested two teen-age girls at St. Teresa's Church in Trumbull in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
+ Joseph P. Moore: accused of molesting a boy at St. Mary Parish in Bethel in the early 1980s.
+ John Castaldo: Trinity Catholic High School's chaplain, charged with soliciting sex over the Internet from an undercover investigator he thought was a 14-year-old boy. He is also accused in two lawsuits of allegedly molesting boys at St. Teresa's Church in Trumbull in the 1980s.
+ Joseph Gorecki: accused in lawsuits of sexually abusing boys between 1960 and 1964 at Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Bridgeport. Gorecki died in 1988.
+ Martin Federici: In 1968, he was picked up by Westport police for allegedly molesting a boy in his car. He was subsequently accused of molesting boys in the 1970s at St. Ambrose Church in Bridgeport and in 1983 at St. Joseph's Church in Shelton.
+ Charles Carr: accused in lawsuits of molesting a boy in Wilton in 1982, two young boys in Bethel in 1984 and one boy at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Norwalk.
+ The Rev. Joseph J. Malloy: former chaplain of the Bridgeport Fire Department and pastor of St. Ann's Church in Bridgeport, accused of molesting a boy at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Trumbull in the 1980s. He denies the assault and remains a priest in Stamford.
The full list of accused priests can be found at the SurvivorsFirst.org
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