Diocese of Bridgeport Releases Report into Sexual Abuse Crisis, SNAP Reacts
A new internal report released by church officials in Connecticut points to serious internal issues that resulted in abusers being protected, survivors being spurned, and cases of abuse being covered up.
The conclusion reached by Judge Robert Holzberg – that the Diocese of Bridgeport continually ignored laws regarding the reporting of abuse and failed in their duty to protect children – comes as no surprise to survivors and advocates in Connecticut. What is disturbing is that the men singled out in this report, including former Archbishop Edward Egan, all had high level positions in other dioceses, meaning that their callous disregard for children and survivors as recognized in Bridgeport was likely experienced by survivors around the country. Every diocese where these men served should be subject to a full investigation by law enforcement officials to determine if any of these cover-ups can be criminally prosecuted.
It is notable that the Diocese of Bridgeport is publicly claiming that 4.7% of their priests were abusers, a rate far below that of other dioceses who have been investigated by secular officials. For example, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report from last fall found that 9% of all priests preyed on children. In Providence, RI a 2006 court case revealed that more than 10% of priests had offended. And in New Hampshire, a 2009 Attorney General report disclosed that 8.9% of priests had abused others. We suspect that Judge Holzberg did not have the complete access to records that he needed in order to get a full accounting of cases of abuse in Bridgeport.
It is also notable that this report identified at least 71 abusive priests, but the list put out by church officials in Bridgeport earlier this year only identified 41 names. This kind of hair-splitting and secrecy is a disturbing sign that, while church officials like to pin the blame for these scandals on past figureheads, the secrecy that has allowed sexual abuse to thrive in the church still continues today.
We hope that this report will encourage other victims, witnesses, and whistle-blowers to come forward and make a report to police and prosecutors. And we hope that Connecticut Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane is paying close attention to this news and will do an investigation of his own into cases of clergy sex abuse and cover-up in his state, this time armed with subpoena power.
(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; our Australia website is SNAPAustralia.org)