Brave Survivor comes forward about the abuse suffered at the hands of Fransican priest
(For Immediate Release February 24, 2020)
A disclosure by the Diocese of Bridgeport about Fr. George Maslar has us infuriated, but not surprised. A brave survivor, identified only as "Jane Doe,’" has stepped up and shared publicly about the abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of Fr. Maslar. The woman received a settlement from the Diocese last year, after notifying Church officials in Bridgeport in 2017 that she was assaulted by the priest in 1971 when she was just 15 years of age. She met the cleric when both attended prayer meetings at the Cathedral of Saint Augustine in Bridgeport.
The Diocese of Bridgeport said in response to the woman's public disclosure of the abuse, “It is important to note that when the Diocese first became aware of the allegations in November 2017, it immediately reported them to the Connecticut State Department of Children and Family, Child Abuse and Neglect Careline, consistent with state law and diocesan policies. At that time, the Diocese also alerted the Franciscan order.”
To us, it is just as important to notify parishioners at the churches where Fr. Maslar was assigned that the clergyman had been accused. As far as we can tell, those notifications were never made. The priest worked at St. Francis of Assisi in Athol Springs, New York in 2020, as well as St. Michael the Archangel and the Bridgeport Health Center in 2016. The Diocese and religious order should both be aware that more survivors and information will be revealed when such allegations become widely known. By keeping this accusation close to the vest, an opportunity was missed to do outreach to those who may have been suffering in silence, believing that they were the only victim.
We stand in awe of this brave survivor, who has herself provided the missing information in a public forum. We hope others who experienced, saw, or suspected Fr. Maslar of crimes will come forward, seek help, expose wrongdoers, deter cover-ups, and start healing.
Those who prey on children rarely have just one victim. We strongly suspect that "Jane Doe" is not alone. The Diocese of Bridgeport and the Franciscans need to fully disclose the work history of Fr. Maslar immediately, as well as notify all of the affected communities of the allegations.
It is a sad state of affairs and strong evidence that the Catholic abuse scandal is still not a thing of the past, to know that the Diocese and the Order were made aware of the accusations in 2017, yet apparently chose not to share with those who may have needed this information. Church officials like to boast that abuse cover-ups no longer occur, but clearly, that is not the case.
CONTACT: Michael McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267) 261-0578 ), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)