Diocese of Bridgeport Adds Two Names to “Credibly Accused” List
Church officials in Bridgeport have updated their list of “credibly accused” priests to include two more names of deceased priests. Now we hope they follow up by actively reaching out to members of their flock and urging witnesses, whistleblowers, and victims to come forward and make a report.
The Diocese of Bridgeport has acknowledged that two different priests – Monsignor William Genuario and Rev. Vincent Cleary – were abusers of children. However, this acknowledgement comes years after reports about both men were made to diocesan officials. We can only hope that others were not abused by these men while the reports against them were ignored by Bridgeport church officials.
At least one report against Msgr. Genuario was made in 2002, meaning it took 17 years for the Diocese of Bridgeport to act. Bishop Frank Caggiano writes off the delay by saying that his review board “investigated the allegations” against Msgr. Genuario in 2002 and 2004, but did not find them “credible” at the time. Such a delay is inexcusable and only put more innocent children in harm’s way.
Similarly, the diocese notes that “in an ongoing review” they uncovered one allegation of abuse against Fr. Cleary, but they did not say what happened as a result of that allegation being made. We can only hope that no others were hurt after Fr. Cleary was first reported to church officials.
To us, this situation perfectly illustrates the truth that no institution can police itself. We hope that anyone who has knowledge or suspicions about clergy abuse in Connecticut will make a report to police before going to church officials. Professionals in law enforcement should be determining the credibility of claims, not hand-picked church panels.
We hope that Connecticut Attorney General William Tong is paying attention to this news out of Bridgeport and that it will encourage him to follow in the footsteps of 20 other attorneys general nationwide and open an investigation into how church officials in Connecticut have been handling cases of sexual abuse.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)