Papers show Egan hid abuse charges
Papers show Egan hid abuse charges
As Conn. bishop, he shielded priests
HARTFORD, Conn. — Secret court documents reveal that Cardinal Edward Egan of New York, while serving as bishop of a Roman Catholic diocese in Connecticut, 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 did not aggressively investigate some abuse allegations in the Bridgeport diocese, did not refer complaints to criminal authorities and, during closed testimony in 1999, suggested that all 12 people who made complaints of rape, molestation and beatings against the same priest may have lied, the documents show.
He said he was not interested in allegations, only “realities,” the documents reveal, adding that “very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything” against a priest.
Egan, 69, a native of Oak Park, Ill., became archbishop of New York in June 2000, succeeding the late Cardinal John O’Connor. Egan had served the Bridgeport diocese since 1988, and during his time there had to defend the diocese against lawsuits filed by 21 people alleging molestation by priests.
In addition to Egan, former Bridgeport Bishop Walter Curtis, Egan’s predecessor, testified in 1995 that the diocese 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 is deceased.
Documents kept sealed
Information about Egan’s role in Connecticut’s largest clergy sex-abuse scandal comes from thousands of lawsuit documents that Egan and the Bridgeport diocese fought, successfully, to keep sealed. While the files remain sealed, The Hartford Courant recently obtained copies of many of them, including transcripts of pretrial testimony by Egan and Curtis, and internal diocesan documents.
Egan did not respond to requests for comment about his actions in the Bridgeport cases.
The documents reveal that, in addition to the eight priests who originally were sued, at least nine others faced molestation accusations but never were publicly identified. The documents name seven of the priests, one of whom continues to serve.
The Bridgeport diocese settled complaints against six priests for $12 million to $15 million last March. Egan was a defendant in some of the lawsuits and fought them aggressively from 1993 until the settlement.
By the time Egan took over from Curtis 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 Egan 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 others. Despite a May 1990 memo by a diocese official worrying about “a developing pattern of accusations” that a Norwalk priest had fondled boys, Egan kept the man working as a priest until 1995, when he suspended him only after a lawsuit was filed.
No sympathy for accusers
The documents show that Egan displayed no sympathy for the priests’ accusers. For instance, regarding a dozen people who complained of sexual abuse and violence by a Greenwich priest, Egan said, “The 12 have never been proved to be telling the truth.” Nowhere in the documents is there evidence that he made serious attempts to investigate the allegations.
And he disagreed that a 1964 memo, which instructed 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 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 allowed the man with “hepatitis” to continue working as a priest outside the diocese until February 1993, three months after receiving additional allegations of sexual misconduct against him from the 1960s. When the allegations came in, Egan’s aide, Vicar Laurence Bronkiewicz, wrote a letter alerting the archdiocese in Baltimore, where the priest had been assigned.
“At the present time, we have no reason to believe the accuser . . . intends to take legal action of any kind, and there has been no publicity concerning the accusation,” Bronkiewicz wrote.
The documents contain no evidence that the diocese under 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.
Posted on February 13, 2013, in Child Sex Abuse, Clergy Abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Pope Benedict, Priest Child Sex Abuse, Religion, Roman Catholic Church, Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse and tagged Bishop Walter Curtis, Bridgeport Diocese, Cardinal Edward Egan, Cardinal John O'Connor, child abuse, child molestation, child sex abuse, clergy abuse, crimes against children, pedophile, priest abuse, priest sex abuse, religion, roman catholic church, roman catholic church sex scandal, roman catholic clergy, roman catholics, Vicar Laurence Bronkiewicz. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.