It is unsurprising that the Diocese of Bridgeport is distancing themselves from Fr. Jean Marie DeGraff now that he has been arrested in Canada. After all, that’s exactly what they did when he was accused of abusing a child when he was an extern priest there in 2008. It is also extremely troubling that both the Department of Children and Families and the Diocese of Bridgeport washed their hands of this priest after their investigation in 2008, because that effectively allowed him to remain free and commit the crimes he is being arrested for today.
Even though Fr. Jean Marie DeGraff was not serving in the Diocese of Bridgeport at the time of his arrest, we still urge diocesan officials to reach out to their parishioners and beg anyone who may have seen or suspected crimes by Fr. DeGraff to come forward and make a report. Their failure to properly investigate this predator in 2008 should behoove them to be extra thorough in their outreach now.
Meanwhile, I live in State College PA these days where the Penn State/Sandusky scandal is playing out. His preliminary hearing is tomorrow morning. No doubt, we will all be privy to the charges and witness statements by tomorrow night. The media is here en masse already. It’s difficult given my own abuse, but the worst of it is the self-protective nature of institutions. The ultimate betrayal by A church, a diocese, a college . Given the culture of institutional self-protection, I don’t see an end to this. It will happen again and again. I wish I could have some hope, but I don’t. It’s up to us to speak truth to power and require change, but I don’t expect change to happen unless we are unremitting in our demands. If you can’t or won’t do that, be prepared for more.