Egan Protected Abusive Priests

By Elizabeth Hamilton and Eric Rich
Hartford Courant
March 17, 2002


Sharon See of Shelton was the first of 26 people to come forward with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members from the Diocese of Bridgeport. She was a teenager when she claims she was repeatedly abused by the Rev. Raymond Pcolka at Holy Name of Jesus parish in Stratford in 1977-1980. (Bob MacDonnell)

Jon Fleetwood of Norwalk came forward with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members from the Diocese of Bridgeport. He was a teenager, he says, when he was repeatedly abused by the Rev. Father Charles Carr of St. Thomas the Apostle in Norwalk. (Bob MacDonnell)

Frank Martinelli of Milwaukee, in a 1997 file shot, had sued the Diocese of Bridgeport for failing to protect him and others from sexual abuse by the Rev. Laurence Brett in Bridgeport in the 1960s. Martinelli later settled his case. (AP)


The Rev. Raymond Pcolka was an assistant pastor in Bridgeport and Stratford when he allegedly committed sexually abusive acts.

[See the other articles in this feature: A Defensive, Dismissive Tone, The Egan File, The Curtis File, Timeline: The Carr File, and Two Documents from the Carr File; see also another Excerpt from the Egan Deposition. Then see Egan's responses and the Courant's coverage: Egan Reacts with Silence by Eric Rich (3/18/02); a Statement by Cardinal Edward Egan (3/19/02); Egan Breaks Silence by Rinker Buck (3/20/02); a Letter by Egan (3/23/02); Egan Defends Handling of Abuse Cases by Rinker Buck (3/24/02); and the major article, Doctors: Church Used Us, by Eric Rich and Elizabeth Hamilton (3/24/02).]

Secret court documents reveal that New York Cardinal Edward M. Egan, while serving as bishop of the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocese, allowed several priests facing multiple accusations of sexual abuse to continue working for years - including one who admitted biting a teenager during oral sex.

Egan failed to investigate aggressively some abuse allegations, did not refer complaints to criminal authorities and, during closed testimony in 1999, suggested that a dozen people who made complaints of rape, molestation and beatings against the same priest may have all been lying, the documents show.

In comments that seem starkly out of synch with the current climate of zero tolerance for sex-abuse accusations against priests, Egan said he wasn't interested in allegations - only "realities." He added that "very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything" against a priest.

"Allegations are allegations," he said.

In addition, former Bridgeport Bishop Walter Curtis, Egan's predecessor, testified in 1995 that the diocese deliberately shuffled pedophile priests among parishes to give them a "fresh start," and he admitted destroying records of complaints against some priests, the documents show. Curtis, who is now deceased, also said he didn't believe pedophilia was a permanent condition.

The revelations about Egan's role in Connecticut's largest clergy sex-abuse scandal are taken from thousands of documents in lawsuits that Egan and the Bridgeport diocese fought, successfully, to keep sealed from public view. While the files remain sealed following a settlement of the suits last year, The Courant recently obtained copies of much of them, including transcripts of pretrial testimony of Egan and Curtis, internal diocesan memoranda and personnel files.

The documents reveal that, in addition to the eight priests who were originally sued, at least nine others faced molestation accusations but were never publicly identified. The documents - which do not include details of the claims or their outcomes - name seven of the priests, one of whom continues to serve as pastor at a Fairfield County parish.

While glimpses of the allegations against a few of the priests emerged during eight years of legal battle, details of what the bishops and other church officials had to say about the cases, and how they handled them, have never been reported until now.

The Bridgeport diocese settled complaints against six priests for $12 million to $15 million last March, shortly after Egan was promoted to cardinal in New York. Egan, who was bishop in Bridgeport from 1988 to 2000, was a defendant in some of the lawsuits and fought them aggressively from 1993 until the settlement, which ended all of the litigation.

He inherited a budding scandal in the Bridgeport diocese that took root during the 27-year reign of Curtis, who, in pretrial interviews with plaintiffs' lawyers, exhibited a blunt lack of interest in dealing with sexually abusive priests. Asked if he ever transferred a priest "because of pedophilic conduct," Curtis replied, "yes."

"When he was assigned to a different parish, would anyone be advised of the problem which he had previously had?" the attorney asked.

"No," Curtis said.

Under Curtis, the documents show, church officials and other priests often ignored obvious signs of sexual involvement with children - such as Rev. Gavin O'Connor's practice of having boys spend the weekend with him in his bed in the rectory. Typically, when a complaint was made, it was only considered substantiated if the priest confessed.

Curtis also testified that records of complaints against priests would usually be put into the diocese's "secret archive," a canonically required cache of historical documents accessed only with keys kept by the bishop and the vicar. He said he would occasionally go into the archive and remove what he called "antiquated" abuse complaints, and destroy them.

Curtis seemed less interested in pedophilia - which he viewed as "an occasional thing" and not a serious psychological problem - than in weeding out potential gays among clergy applicants:

"We had a policy in this sense, that before a candidate was accepted for study for the priesthood, [they] would have psychological testing, and if there appeared signs of homosexuality, he wouldn't be accepted," Curtis said.

By the time Egan took over in December 1988, complaints were trickling in against several priests, made by adults who said they had been victimized in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The documents show that he defrocked at least one priest for sexual offenses, and put in place the first written policy on sexual abuse complaints.

But he was slow to suspend or remove priestly powers of some others, even those with multiple complaints against them.

Despite a May 1990 memo by a diocese official worrying about "a developing pattern of accusations" that Rev. Charles Carr of Norwalk had fondled young boys, Egan kept Carr working as a priest until 1995, when he suspended him only after a lawsuit was filed. Egan's aide, Vicar Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, wrote a sympathetic note to Carr.

"Trusting that you understand the reasons for these actions, I join Bishop Egan in praying that the Lord will bless you with the graces you need at this time in your life," Bronkiewicz said.

Egan actually reinstated Carr in 1999 as a part-time chaplain at a church-run nursing home in Danbury. But after yet another accusation against Carr surfaced earlier this year, about an incident from long ago, newly installed Bishop William Lori finally defrocked Carr last month and referred him to state child protection authorities.

The expressions of concern for, and willingness to believe, accused priests stand in contrast to the absence of sympathy displayed for the accusers. For instance, regarding a dozen people who made complaints of sexual abuse and violence against the Rev. Raymond Pcolka of Greenwich, Egan said, "the 12 have never been proved to be telling the truth."

Yet, nowhere in the documents is there evidence that attempts were made to seriously investigate the truth of such allegations - accusers were not interviewed, witnesses were not sought, and no attempt was made to learn of other possible victims. Egan allowed Pcolka to continue working as a priest until 1993, when he suspended him after Pcolka refused to participate in psychiatric treatment.

Egan also doesn't believe accusers have a right to know of other, similar accusations against the same priest: "We're dealing with them as a specific case, and I would have no reason to go into other people's concerns with them."

And he disagreed that a 1964 memo, instructing church officials that "hepatitis was to be feigned" as a cover for the sudden absence of a priest, was an attempt to hide the fact that the priest, the Rev. Laurence Brett, had left because he admitted biting a teenager's penis during oral sex.

"I wouldn't read it that way," Egan said of the memo, written long before he got there. "I would read it that this man is going away, and if anyone asks, say he's not well, he has hepatitis. That's quite a bit different than saying you are going to hide it."

Egan added that he wouldn't have made up an excuse about a priest's absence, preferring instead to simply tell anyone who inquired that it was none of their business.

Egan allowed Brett to continue working as a priest outside of the diocese until February 1993, three months after receiving additional allegations of sexual misconduct against Brett from the 1960s. When the allegations came in, Egan's aide, Bronkiewicz, wrote a letter alerting the archdiocese in Baltimore, where Brett had been assigned.

"At the present time, we have no reason to believe the accuser of Father Brett intends to take legal action of any kind, and there has been no publicity concerning the accusation," he wrote.

There is no evidence from any of the documents that the diocese under both Egan and Curtis alerted the police or state child protection authorities when parents or victims came forward with accusations of abuse. In all of the cases during Egan's tenure, the statute of limitations to bring criminal charges had expired.

But the failure to report those cases meant that police and state child protection authorities were never able to investigate the possibility of other victims or possession of child pornography, a federal crime. Under public pressure, Boston and several other dioceses recently began turning over names of all accused priests, no matter how old the incidents.

Revelations of Egan's actions and attitudes toward sex abuse accusations against clergy are likely to further roil the Catholic Church, which has been rocked in recent months by news of the Boston Archdiocese's decades-long mishandling of abuse complaints against pedophile priest John Geoghan. In the wake of that scandal, Boston and other dioceses - including Bridgeport, under the new bishop, Lori - have taken steps to become more forthcoming with the public and civil authorities.

However, Egan, who as cardinal in New York is the highest profile Catholic in the United States, has come under growing criticism for not speaking out. On Friday, in a New York Daily News cover story headlined "Speak Up, Egan Told," Egan's spokesman said the cardinal planned no public statements on the issue.

Egan did not respond to requests for comments about his actions in the Bridgeport cases, including a list of questions e-mailed to his office at the request of his spokesman, Joseph Zwilling. In an e-mail Saturday, Zwilling referred all questions "concerning the Diocese of Bridgeport and/or any actions that may have occured in that diocese" to Bridgeport.

Joseph McAleer, a spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, said in a statement that "this was litigated for 8 years and was in the newspapers practically every day," and that the diocese would have no further comment.

"The diocese of Bridgeport has always acted according to the law and remains proactive on the prevention of sexual misconduct by its clergy and its employees," McAleer said.

Cindy Robinson, whose law firm, Tremont & Sheldon, represented 26 people who settled lawsuits with the Bridgeport Diocese last year, would not comment on any of the information contained in the sealed documents, saying she is prevented by the protective order issued by the judge.

"We have always said we were confident we would prevail at trial proving our claim that both Bishop Egan and Bishop Curtis participated in the ongoing cover-up of these priests," said Robinson.


What follows is the first inside look, derived from the court documents, of how Egan and other church officials handled the cases of three priests accused of sexual abuse:

Rev. Charles Carr

Though the diocese kept giving Carr new assignments, allegations of sexual improprieties followed him around.

The Rev. Michael Palmer, the parish priest at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Wilton in the early 1980s, knew as early as 1982 that his assistant, Father Charles Carr, might be attracted to children. That was when the mother of an 11-year-old boy came to Palmer to complain about Carr.

Click the image to zoom.

Her son, a student at Our Lady of Fatima School, had gone with Carr and a couple of other boys to Long Island for a school holiday trip a few days earlier and came back drenched with sweat and shaking.

When his mother asked what was wrong, her son told her that after the other boys had been dropped off at their houses, Carr had driven him to the church parking lot and parked. Her son didn't like that, the mother told her priest, because it was already dark and the church was out of the way from their home.

Then Carr started tickling the boy, even though he was asking the priest to stop. When Carr tried to put his hands down the boy's pants, she said, her son pushed the priest away and called him a "pervert."

Palmer told the distraught mother he'd "look into it." When he asked Carr about it a few days later, Carr admitted he'd been tickling the boy and that his hand might have accidentally "slipped," but he denied any sexual intent.

Palmer told Carr to stay away from the boy, but never reported it to anyone else because, he testified in a 1997 deposition, he didn't believe it was a "clear cut" sexual complaint. Attorneys questioned why Palmer would not consider the complaint sexual in nature:

Q: What's not clear cut?

A. That it's a direct intended sexual advance.

Q: Let me ask you, as a priest, as a man, you are an athlete as well, you said you enjoy sports, how many times have you stuck your hand accidentally down the front of an individual, a boy or a man's trousers?

A: I can't remember any.

Carr left the Wilton church in 1984 for what would be a short-lived stint on the faculty of Immaculate High School in Danbury and the parish of St. Mary's in Bethel, where he stayed only three months.

Peter DeMarco, who was the parish priest at St. Mary's in 1984, was asked about Carr's quick transfer during a 1999 deposition, and said he knew only that a group of parents complained to the diocese that Carr had inappropriately touched one of their eighth-grade sons at the movies.

"Monsignor [Andrew] Cusack called me up after the meeting and told me he had met with the parents," DeMarco said. "That they were not - this is what I seem to remember. That the parents were not after any criminal or legal repercussions - I'm not sure what the words were - but they just wanted him to be transferred. And Monsignor Cusack said, `He will be leaving you as soon as possible.' "

Cusack, the Episcopal Vicar of Religious and Clergy for the Bridgeport Diocese, sent Carr for counseling with William Larkin, a Ridgefield therapist with a degree in theology. Bishop Curtis then transferred him to St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Norwalk, where he met 13-year-old Jon Fleetwood and his family in September 1984.

Fleetwood, who sued Carr in 1993 and has spoken publicly about the sexual abuse he suffered, worked in the rectory answering phones and ran into Carr often. The priest quickly became friendly with the Fleetwood family and was a frequent dinner guest.

One evening, Carr invited Fleetwood to his room in the rectory, which he shared with three other priests, to watch a movie. The fondling began the same way it did with the other boy, Fleetwood testified in 1995.

"He was poking and tickling and soon it just moved down lower toward my penis and he started playing with the inside of my thigh," he said. "And then it turned into rubbing instead of tickling."

That first time, Fleetwood said, Carr did not unzip his pants and fondle his penis. But he did the second time, as well as on three other occasions, Fleetwood said.

Fleetwood eventually stopped accepting Carr's invitations, which got him in a little bit of trouble with his parents - who thought he was being rude to the priest - but he said he felt too ashamed and upset about the sexual encounters to tell anyone why he didn't want to go.

Then, in July 1986, Curtis granted Carr's request to be appointed to the faculty of the Notre Dame Catholic High School in Fairfield. When asked during his 1996 deposition why the diocese would transfer Carr to a boy's school when he was suspected of making sexual advances on boys, Cusack said he was simply acting on Larkin's advice.

"Isn't that like sending Dracula to guard the blood bank?" asked Attorney Paul Tremont, who was representing the plaintiffs suing Carr and the diocese. "Why didn't you put him some other place?"

"That was not the advice of Dr. Larkin," Cusack responded.

The diocese did not at any time, however, request or obtain any written report from Larkin about Carr's mental health or even his diagnosis, which Cusack characterized as primarily a "self-esteem problem." Carr stayed at Notre Dame High School until 1989, when Egan transferred him to a new job - spiritual director for the boys at Central Catholic High School in Norwalk.

Word of Carr's appointment to the Norwalk school got back to the mother of the 11-year-old boy Carr was accused of fondling in 1982, and she was, her son testified in 1996, "outraged."

The woman, who was getting her master's degree in theology at the time, asked one of her professors to write to Egan on her behalf - to vouch for her, in effect - so she could sit down with him and discuss Carr's appointment, her son told attorneys. But Egan refused to meet with her.

Instead, the woman met with Cusack's replacement, Laurence Bronkiewicz, on Oct. 19, 1989, and told him what Carr did to her son seven years earlier. Bronkiewicz then called Cusack, who was now working at Seton Hall University, and asked him whether there were any other complaints against Carr he needed to know about.

Yes, Cusack said, one - and told him for the first time about the 1984 allegations against Carr at St. Mary's.

Egan sent Carr off to the Institute of Living, a Hartford psychiatric hospital, in January 1990 for an evaluation, but doctors there were unable to determine whether Carr's denial of the accusations was truthful, documents show. So, Egan allowed Carr to return to his job at Central Catholic High School that winter.

But a few months later, another parent came forward with a complaint that Carr had fondled his then 11-year-old son in the early 1980s. Carr was returned in April to the Institute of Living, where a doctor suggested the diocese take some sort of "administrative action to protect both Father Carr and the public" from future "lapses" by Carr.

Carr consistently denied the accusations against him, but said he agreed to treatment because it was church policy.

Egan decided that Carr could return to work, and in June Carr was appointed parochial vicar of Saint Philip Parish in Norwalk, with the restriction that he not minister to children and that he continue in therapy.

One year later, in June 1991, those restrictions were lifted when Egan appointed Carr parochial vicar of Saint Andrew Parish in Bridgeport. In a memo written a few days before the appointment, Bronkiewicz wrote "we are satisfied that Fr. Carr is able to be assigned to Saint Andrew Parish without risk."

The whole thing might have ended there if the diocese hadn't tried to collect back tuition for Immaculate High School in Danbury from one of the families that had accused Carr of fondling their son in 1984 - even after the father in that family lost his job.

One of the alleged victims from 1984, who by 1993 was 23 years old, came to see Bronkiewicz to complain about the diocese's actions. In an internal memo, Bronkiewicz quotes the young man as saying "he finds it difficult to believe that the diocese is trying to collect this unpaid tuition when his parents could have sued the diocese in 1984 for the actions of Father Carr."

The first lawsuit against the diocese in connection to Carr was served on March 30, 1995. Later that day, Egan suspended Carr and placed him on an indefinite leave of absence.


Rev. Raymond Pcolka

Allegations of abuse against Pcolka stretched back decades and involved more than a dozen accusers.

In 1983, an 18-year-old woman and her counselor came to Cusack, and told him she had been molested by her parish priest, Father Pcolka, 11 years earlier.

Cusack, in pretrial testimony in 1995 and 1996, said the woman told him she'd been "fondled" by Pcolka when she was a young girl attending St. John's in Bridgeport, but that he didn't fully believe her story because it appeared she was being "coached" by her counselor.

Attorneys for the woman, however, say Cusack had been told something far more disturbing: On the girl's seventh birthday, Pcolka told her he was going to give her a "birthday spanking," then he forced her to perform oral sex on him and "beat her while she was naked."

Pcolka denied it. Cusak, who had been placed in charge of handling misconduct complaints for the diocese, sent Pcolka to a psychiatric hospital for an "overnight evaluation," and talked to some of Pcolka's former supervisors and colleagues.

He did not notify the authorities. Nor did he check Pcolka's file for past complaints or specifically ask his former supervisors whether there had been previous sexual abuse charges.

His denials believed, Pcolka was allowed to return to his post at the Holy Name Church in Stratford without restrictions.

In fact, this was not the first time Pcolka had been accused of molesting a child. According to the documents, church officials had been receiving complaints about him since his first assignment, in 1966, at St. Benedict's Parish in Stamford.

In 1976, a parishioner at the Holy Name Church in Stratford wrote to Bishop Curtis complaining that Pcolka was involved in an inappropriate relationship with her daughter-in-law. Curtis wrote to Pcolka's supervisor asking for a response, but no further action was taken.

Pcolka continued on in his ministry, transferring to St. Mary's Church in Bethel and then again, in 1989, to Sacred Heart Church in Greenwich at the behest of newly appointed Bishop Egan. Shortly after Pcolka's reassignment, Egan had Pcolka over to his house for a private dinner, at which, according to Pcolka, the two discussed his transfer to Greenwich.

Asked by plaintiffs' lawyers if the two also talked about any sexual abuse allegations against him, Pcolka denied that they had. On the heels of that dinner came another complaint against Pcolka, this time from a mother claiming her son, James Krug, was molested almost two decades earlier. Egan sent the priest to the Institute of Living for a two-day evaluation.

"It was extensive. It was whatever was required at the Institute of Living and it was enough for an expert of some renown to indicate to us that there was no reason for us to hesitate to allow this person to continue in his duty," Egan testified in 1999.

The 1983 letter written to Cusack by the young woman accusing Pcolka of molestation was missing from Pcolka's file, Egan said, so he was unaware of that earlier allegation when weighing what action to take with Pcolka. He said he relied on the recommendation from a psychologist and the advice of his vicar general, Monsignor William Scheyd.

"He told me that if you were to give him a list of all the priests in the diocese, the last he would ever suspect of any misconduct of this sort would be Father Pcolka," Egan testified, adding that he didn't consider the complaints against Pcolka a "proved reality."

Pcolka was then allowed to resume his duties at Sacred Heart Church without any restrictions.

In 1992, Krug himself came forward, adding weight to the claims his mother made three years earlier. Egan granted Pcolka a leave of absence and returned him to the Institute of Living, where he stayed for approximately 10 days before leaving, against Egan's orders that he stay, Egan testified.

Egan suspended Pcolka at that point, but continued to pay his salary, provide his health benefits and cover the cost of his attorney's fees for several years, documents show.

Egan also did not make any effort to expel Pcolka from the priesthood, as he had done with at least one other priest accused of sexual misconduct. When asked why he had not done this, Egan said he didn't have sufficient evidence that Pcolka had abused anyone.

"If I had proof of his having been out of order, I certainly would have," Egan said.

Later, when asked if he was aware that at least 12 people accused Pcolka of sexual abuse that included oral and anal sex, beatings, violence and sadistic language, Egan responded:

"I am not aware of any of those things. I am aware of the claims of those things, the allegations of those things. .... I am aware that there are a number of people who know one another, some are related to one another, have the same lawyers and so forth, I am aware of the circumstances, yes."

Two years later, the diocese settled lawsuits against Pcolka, who exercised his Fifth Amendment privilege more than 100 times when questioned in 1994 about abuse allegations stretching back three decades and involving more than a dozen victims.


Rev. Laurence Brett

Brett was sent out of state - with the admonition that, should anyone ask, "hepatitis was to be feigned" as a cover for his absence.

In December 1964, a teenage student at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport came forward with an extraordinary complaint: Father Laurence Brett, a spiritual director at the university, had performed oral sex on the student - against his wishes - and had bitten his penis to prevent him from ejaculating.

Brett was confronted that very day. He admitted the claim was true, according to court documents. He said he had a "problem" and confessed to involvement with at least one other university boy.

Church memoranda show that Bishop Curtis discussed the situation with the Apostolic Delegate, the Vatican representative in Washington, D.C. Curtis ended up deciding not to suspend Brett, but to send him out of state - with the admonition to diocese officials that, should anyone ask, "hepatitis was to be feigned" as a cover for Brett's absence.

Thus began a nearly 30-year odyssey for Brett, who bounced around the country, working as a priest in different dioceses, all the while remaining answerable to - and the responsibility of - the Bridgeport diocese.

His first stop after the 1964 incident was New Mexico for psychiatric treatment. From New Mexico and elsewhere, Brett wrote letters pleading with the bishop to allow him to return. Others asked on his behalf.

"He is not welcome," Curtis once told Monsignor Cusak.

In seeming exile, Brett was supported financially by the Bridgeport diocese and was permitted to perform priestly functions under the auspices of the diocese. Almost immediately, an indication came that Brett's misconduct may have been broader than was first suspected.

While he was in New Mexico in 1966, a high school-aged boy from a parish back in Stamford claimed that Brett had made an unwanted advance on him. When the incident occurred, Brett was an assistant pastor at the parish, where he also acted as a mentor and spiritual advisor to a small group of boys who were interested in liturgical reforms in the Catholic Church. The boy who accused him was part of this group, informally known as "Brett's Mavericks."

In a letter that April, Curtis told the Apostolic Delegate that the boy probably was not aware of the actual reason behind Brett's abrupt departure.

"The departure of Father Brett was accomplished very quietly," Curtis wrote.

The boy's parents said their son was traumatized. They were seeking financial support. The Apostolic Delegate suggested meeting with the parents because "such an expression of pastoral concern may relieve them while an official attitude may leave them bitter."

Curtis took the advice and arranged a meeting. He reported back that the parents felt someone in the church had advised the boy not to report the incident to them. In a memorandum, Curtis recounted his portion of the discussion:

"The boy himself ... said he could not bring himself to tell [his parents] and I tried to indicate that this might have been the reason why the advice was given not to tell them, mainly that the boy did not feel up to it and it was judged there was no obligation under the circumstances to do so."

In the years that followed, Brett held a variety of ecclesiastical positions in New Mexico, California and Maryland, to which he finally relocated. There, he held a summer position at a parish and served as chaplain at a school in Baltimore. He became a writer, inspirational speaker and television minister.

Bishop Egan and Brett first met in June 1990. Around the same time, as was his custom when he met a priest for the first time, Egan familiarized himself with Brett's background, Egan testified later.

Egan wrote a memorandum after the meeting: "All things considered, he made a good impression. In the course of our conversation, the particulars of his case came out in detail and with grace."

In February 1991, Egan, after an "investigation" of the priest's history, decided Brett could continue as a priest under the auspices of the diocese. The following exchange comes from Egan's deposition.

A: I had sufficient information for myself and for others to decide that he would continue, but I certainly wouldn't say I stopped keeping an eye on the thing.

Q: But you didn't do anything, you didn't - for example, you didn't...

A: No, I made a decision... on the basis of the information that was given to me professionally, I allowed him to remain in the ministry.

In November 1992, an adult claimed that Brett had molested him, when he was 10 or 12 years old, at a parish in New Mexico in 1966. Two weeks later, Brett admitted past sexual misconduct with at least three other high school-age boys - one in New Mexico and two in Maryland.

In late 1992 or early 1993, another one of "Brett's Mavericks" - Frank Martinelli, then an adult living in Milwaukee - told the diocese that Brett molested him in the 1960s, when he was between 13 and 15 years old.

The allegations were severe and familiar: Brett had performed fellatio on him in a walkway behind the grade school of the church after confession, had induced the boy to perform fellatio on him by telling the child that the act was a way to receive Holy Communion, and he had fondled the boy in a bathroom during a field trip with other boys to Washington D.C.

A short time later, in February 1993, a man claimed that Brett abused him in Sacramento in the 1960s. The new accuser said he expected restitution and compensation.

Nine days later, Egan suspended Brett's priestly faculties.


The Situation Today

The Bridgeport diocese has set up a special committee to review all complaints on a case-by-case basis.

Four days ago, Lori, the new bishop of Bridgeport, released a strongly worded statement to the 370,000 Catholics in his diocese about the recent sex abuse scandals that have rocked his church. The statement - part apology and part manifesto -spells out the bishop's zero-tolerance attitude toward the sexual abuse of minors.

First, Lori says, he's beefed up the 1991 diocesan policy to ensure that any complaints, even suspicions of sexual abuse, are immediately reported and investigated. These investigations will now be done by a special committee, made up of psychologists and other experts, who will review complaints on a case-by-case basis.

Second, the diocese is conducting a detailed review of all 285 active priests and 86 deacons under its auspices and, at this point, has determined there are none "who pose any threat of committing sexual misconduct with a minor."

One action Lori also took, but didn't mention, was his removal last month of the Rev. Charles Carr from his job as part-time chaplain of the Pope John Paul II Center for Health Care in Danbury.

In the March issue of Fairfield County Catholic, Bronkiewicz notes at the bottom of a list of staffing announcements that Carr has recently had "his priestly faculties removed" and is "no longer available for priestly ministry in the Diocese of Bridgeport."

How is it that Carr, who was suspended by Egan in 1995 for a string of sexual abuse complaints with minors, was still working as a priest?

"This would have been a decision made by Bishop Egan," said Joseph McAleer, the diocese spokesman.

Carr began his job at the nursing home in 1999, McAleer said, after it was decided that it was safe to return him to a "limited ministry where he would have no contact with children or adolescents." When a new claim of sexual abuse - alleged to have occurred years ago - came in at the beginning of this year, Lori decided enough was enough.

"The bishop was not comfortable with the past allegations," McAleer said, adding that the new complaint was reported to the state Department of Children and Families.

Carr still receives a stipend from the diocese, as does Raymond Pcolka, who is living in Southbury and is also suspended from the ministry. McAleer said the diocese is required by Canon Law to pay a modest living allowance to priests even if they are not technically working.

As for Laurence Brett, his whereabouts remain a mystery. He receives no stipend from the diocese.

"We hope he is found and we hope he is brought to justice," McAleer said.



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