- Group challenges bishop over accused predator
- Prelate kept secret about child sex accusations for 3 years
- Catholic officials allegedly “restricted” priest but warned no one
- Now, he’s been arrested in Canada for molesting at least one child
- SNAP: “Now, pedophile priests are moved from nation to nation, not just from city to city”
Holding poster-sized childhood photos & church documents, clergy sex abuse victim will urge Bridgeport Catholic officials to explain why they
--kept secret for years about a child sex abuse allegation against an accused child molesting cleric, and
--let him move quietly to Canada where no one was warned about him.
They will prod Bridgeport’s bishop to
--personally visit each parish where the pedophile priest worked,
--aggressively seek out anyone who saw, suspected or suffered his crimes, and
--publicly list on his website the names and whereabouts of all proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics.
Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 11:15 a.m.
Outside the Bridgeport Catholic diocesan headquarters, 238 Jewett Avenue, Bridgeport CT
Two-three clergy sex abuse victims who belong to a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAPnetwork.org), including an Illinois woman who is the organization’s founder
Last week, a Connecticut newspaper disclosed that Fr. Jean Marie DeGraff was arrested in October for allegedly molesting at least one child in Canada in 2010 and 2011. From 2007 to 2008, DeGraff worked at St. Mary Parish on Greenwich Avenue and other churches in western Connecticut.
SNAP wants Bridgeport Bishop William Lori to explain why he kept silent about child sex abuse allegations against DeGraff in Connecticut in 2008. Even though DFS later deemed the allegation “unsubstantiated,” SNAP feels Lori should have notified the parishioners and the public about it right away. Had that been done, the group suspects, others who may have seen, suspected or suffered DeGraff’s crimes might have contacted law enforcement and the priest’s Canadian victims may have been spared “devastating harm.”
SNAP also wants the bishop to personally go to each parish where DeGraff worked, even briefly, and beg those with suspicions or knowledge of his crimes to call police and help make sure he’s kept away from kids.
When DeGraff’s arrest became known, Lori quickly and “disingenuously” tried to distance himself from the priest, SNAP says, by stressing that he isn’t formally a diocesan priest. The group points out that Lori let DeGraff work in the Bridgeport area and is responsible for the safety of all Catholics in his diocese.
SNAP says that Lori is also breaking his promises of “transparency.” His formal diocesan abuse policy says "The Diocese will maintain a public record, including a website, that lists the names of priests and deacons who have been removed from ministry." But Lori hasn’t updated the public about the status of accused priests since 2003. His “continuing secrecy,” the groups say, is endangering children now.
In comparison, the groups point to the Manchester NH diocese (which is much smaller than Bridgeport.) According to public records, from December 2003 to 2007, the NH diocese received reports against 27 more clerics. In the same period, however, Lori revealed only two or three newly accused clerics.
Finally, for the sake of public safety, SNAP is urging Lori to post on his diocesan website the names, photos and whereabouts of all proven, admitted and credibly accused Bridgeport-area child molesting clerics. Roughly 30 US bishops have done this. SNAP believes this is the least any bishop who wants to protect kids should do.