February 3, 2012
The attorneys at Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney recently became aware of an interview given by Cardinal Egan to Connecticut Magazine regarding childhood clergy abuse within the Diocese of Bridgeport. Our office has successfully represented over 90 victims who were sexually abused by priests within the Diocese of Bridgeport. We have represented victims who were sexually abused in the 1960s and all the way through the 1990s, specifically including victims who were abused while Cardinal Egan was Bishop of Bridgeport. We are compelled to address the numerous misstatements made by the Cardinal during his interview:
1. The Cardinal states "I don't think even now you're obligated to report them (abuse cases) in Connecticut". Wrong. Since the early 1970s, and specifically when Egan was Bishop, Connecticut General Statute Section 17a-101 required clergy to report the sexual abuse of children to the authorities. Egan never did so and his failure to do so constitutes a violation of the law. The reporting statute remains in full force today.
2. Throughout the interview the Cardinal professes that he "never had a case". Wrong. During the Cardinal's tenure here, clergy sex abuse of children by priests within the Diocese of Bridgeport was both occurring and being reported. Father Pcolka was one of the most prolific and heinous pedophilic priests within the Diocese of Bridgeport. We have the 1983 letter from our client reporting the abuse directly to the Diocese. Nothing was done. In 1989, another victim came forward to report Pcolka's abuses to the Cardinal. Still, nothing was done. Another one of our clients was abused by Pcolka through the mid to late 1980s. Pcolka was only suspended when we filed a lawsuit in 1993. And then Egan directed his lawyers to deny the abuse and even threatened us with a slander suit.
In 1993, on Egan's watch, the parents of another young boy complained directly to the Diocese about improper conduct by Father Martin Federici. Released Diocesan documents show that the Diocese was well aware of major problems with Federici dating back to at least the 1970s. Nothing was done.
Since the 1980s, the Diocese knew that Father Charles Carr was inappropriate with children. However, in 1993, then Bishop Egan allowed him to have contact with children. Carr was only suspended when we filed a lawsuit.
In 1964, Father Lawrence Brett bit a young male's penis so hard that the boy had to go for medical treatment. At the time, Monsignor William Genuario wrote a memo stating that "a recurrence of hepatitis will be feigned" if anyone should ask Brett's whereabouts. Yet in 1990, then Bishop Egan welcomed Brett back into the Diocese of Bridgeport.
3. The Cardinal indicates that he "attended to 8-9 cases" while Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese. Wrong. During his tenure as Bishop, our firm represented over 25 individuals who were sexually abused as children by priests within the Diocese of Bridgeport. In addition, during this period there were also victims represented by other law firms.
While the Cardinal was Bishop in Bridgeport, he handled these cases in a uniform manner: he never reported complaints to the authorities; he transferred priests against whom complaints had been made; he never informed a new pastor of a priest's prior history; and he allowed priests with complaints against them to continue to practice (until lawsuits filed) and/or return to Diocese.
During our lawsuits, the Cardinal, through his counsel, immediately sought to seal all depositions of defendants and church personnel as well as all documents obtained during the lawsuit, denied the abuse took place, never offered counseling to victims and fought to prevent discovery of all sexual abuse complaints made against its priests. We resolved these cases only after the Cardinal left the Diocese of Bridgeport.
Cardinal Egan's statements in this article, including describing the sex abuse scandal as being "incredibly good" or "fun" for the news, confirms the extent to which he was out of touch with the reality of what occurred to the Catholic Faithful within his Diocese. For the Cardinal to "take back" his apology is just another slap in the face of every victim who has endured the physical and emotional upheaval and betrayal of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a priest.