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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release: Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Notorious serial predator priest dies; Sex abuse victims respond

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)

We're grateful that never again can Laurence Brett hurt another child. We hope Brett's death will bring some closure to the dozens of individuals he sexually assaulted.

At the same time, we hope someday that the current and former Catholic officials who ignored and concealed his crimes will be brought to justice. And we hope that every single person who was hurt by Brett finds the courage to come forward, get help, expose wrongdoing and start healing.

(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, peterisely@yahoo.com), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)

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courant.com/community/bridgeport/hc-pedophile-priest-dead0106-20110105,0,2300511.story

Pedophile Priest Who Escaped FBI Dies In Martinique

Brett was found by Courant in 2002

By Dave Altimari, daltimar@courant.com The Hartford Courant 4:57 PM EST, January 5, 2011

Former Bridgeport priest Laurence F.X. Brett, one of the most notorious pedophiles to emerge during the priest-abuse scandals of the 1990s, has died on the French island of Martinique, where he apparently has been living under an alias for the past several years.

While the details surrounding Brett's death are sketchy, a French newspaper confirmed through government officials that Brett died on Christmas day. He was 73.

Brett was living in an apartment and apparently fell down the stairs and hit his head, according to a friend of his who contacted The Courant.

He died at the Hospital Pierre Zobda-Quimann, the main hospital on the island. It is unclear if anyone has claimed his body. He checked into the hospital under the name James Brett, which was his father's name.

Officials with the Diocese of Bridgeport said that they were unaware of Brett's death and had no idea he was living in Martinique. Spokesman Brian Wallace said that Bishop William Lori laicized Brett in 2002 after The Courant found Brett living on St. Maarten's. Brett had been wanted by the FBI for some years before the Courant found him.

"The whole thing is a tragedy in terms of the young lives that he abused and his own difficulties in life and the apparent tragic way that he died,'' Wallace said. "The church prays for all sinners whether its one of our own or a person on death row. We will pray for the repose of his soul."

It is unclear how long Brett had been living on Martinique, but a photo of him sitting in a restaurant there that was shown to The Courant was taken within the last month.

Brett, who authorities said left a trail of victims in four states going back more than 30 years, abruptly disappeared from his Baltimore apartment in 1993 while he was still technically a priest in the Diocese of Bridgeport.

He remained in hiding after an arrest warrant was issued in 1999 alleging he molested two boys at a Catholic High School in Baltimore. Around that same time, a jury in federal court in Connecticut found in favor of Frank Martinelli, a Milwaukee man who sued the Diocese of Bridgeport claiming it breached its fiduciary duties by failing to remove Brett from the priesthood even though they knew he was a potential pedophile.

Martinelli was one of a group of Stamford teenage boys that became known as "Brett's Mavericks" while he was pastor at St. Cecilia Church in Stamford. Eventually several of the "Mavericks" revealed that they had been molested by Brett.

Testimony and documents made public during Martinelli's trial revealed that church leaders tried to cover up Brett's actions by shipping him out of state for treatment and by concocting a story that he contracted hepatitis if any parishioners asked about him.

Brett was sent to New Mexico and eventually worked in Sacramento and Baltimore, leaving behind a trail of victims at each stop. Eventually, more than 20 people came forward to claim they were abused by Brett.

The Courant found Brett living in St. Maartens in 2002. He was confronted while walking his dog outside his condominium complex.

The Courant also discovered that several people from the United States, including two priests from the Bridgeport Diocese, had kept in contact with Brett and had sent him money even though he was considered a fugitive from justice.

Both Rev. David Howell and Rev. Gerald Devore were publically admonished by Lori and removed from their parishes to do penance. Both are now priests in good standing, Wallace said.

Church officials notified law enforcement authorities in Baltimore and Connecticut that Brett had been found and then began the process of laicizing him. Brett had agreed in 1993 to be laicized, but then changed his mind. Then-Bishop Edward Egan did not go through with the process.

Brett disappeared shortly after, leaving behind all of his possessions in the apartment in Baltimore where he was living. He moved to Florida and stayed briefly with a friend named Jerry Valcik.

Valcik declined to comment on Brett's death when contacted Wednesday.

Brett didn't live in Florida long before heading to the Caribbean. During that time, more allegations of abuse surfaced. Tthe Archdiocese of Baltimore turned 15 complaints over to authorities for possible criminal charges.

In 1999, authorities obtained two arrest warrants charging Brett with second-degree sexual assault for alleging calling two former students from Calvert Hall, a Catholic high school in the Baltimore area, to his office, where he performed oral sex on them under the pretense of inspecting their penis size and confirming they weren't homosexual.

But prosecutors eventually withdrew those charges because the specific statutes didn't exist in the early 1970s, when Brett was alleged to have committed the crimes. The only charge that fit the crimes was the misdemeanor charge of "perverted practice'' but authorities said it was unclear if the statute of limitations for that crime had expired. Brett's name was then removed from the FBI's fugitive task force list.


Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
www.snapnetwork.org