A report released Tuesday says that 281 people have been sexually abused by members of the Diocese of Bridgeport since its inception in 1953 -- and nearly all of them were minors. In a report commissioned by the diocese itself, retired state court judge Robert Holzberg found that they had been sexually abused by 71 priests.
The report concluded that 10 priests were responsible for more than half of all cases.
Holzberg also said that Cardinal Edward Egan broke the law when he was Bishop in Bridgeport. According to the report, Egan and other bishops didn’t notify law enforcement and took a dismissive attitude toward survivors.
“The priests who committed these ghastly acts engaged in criminal acts, they violated their vows and their canonical obligations, and the bishops who failed to report violated their obligations under the mandated reporting law,” Holzberg said during a Tuesday press conference.
The report found that the diocese has known about the existence of abuse for its entire 66-year history.
Gail Howard is the co-leader of Connecticut’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. She’s now calling for a criminal investigation.
“You can’t trust the church to investigate itself anymore," Howard told Connecticut Public Radio. "Even though Judge Holzberg acted in good faith, he was paid by the church. How are we to believe that he had access to all the documents he really needed? It’s time really for civil authorities to step in as they have done in nearly half the states.”
In a written statement posted on the website of the diocese, Bishop Frank Caggiano apologized for the abuse and called the release of the report a “crucial step forward.”
Caggiano said all priests who have been credibly accused are either dead or have been removed from ministry. He pledged to do whatever he could to rid the diocese of sex abuse.
Additional reporting by WSHU's Davis Dunavin.