BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A new report shows that clerical sex abuse in the diocese of Bridgeport over the last 66 years is overwhelmingly homosexual in nature.
He noted the investigation was led by retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg, who, along with his own investigators, "had unfettered access to diocesan files, reviewing over 250,000 records, hundreds of thousands of individual documents, inspection of parish offices, files, and computers and interviews with key participants."
Caggiano, the bishop of Bridgeport since 2013, added, "I wish again to offer my profound and heartfelt apology to all who have suffered abuse at the hands of any cleric in our Diocese. I also apologize to all those who have lost a sense of trust or feel betrayed by Church leadership."
The 250-page report shows not only that the vast number of the 281 confirmed abuse cases of homosexual nature but it shows a history of cover-up by the bishops in charge of the diocese since its establishment in 1953.
It acknowledges, "It is likely that there are more victims and clergy abusers than we have identified," noting that Bp. Walter Curtis had admitted to "purging and destroying records concerning sexual abuse of minors."
More than 80% of the abuse cases occurred between 1960–1989, with the majority of those happening in the 1970s at double the rate of those occurring in the 1960s and 1980s.
Seventy-five percent are homosexual in nature, 16% of the abuse was conducted against girls; in 9% of the cases, the sex of the victim was not explained.
The report also reveals that 91 of the victims ages 11–14 were boys, double the amount of male victims in the other age groups.
Since the diocese's inception, there have been five bishops in charge, and the report slams the first three bishops, all of whom have since died: Cdl. Lawrence Shehan (1953–1961), Bp. Walter Curtis (1961–1988) and Cdl. Edward Egan (1988–2000).
It maintains "the single gravest moral and legal lapse was the consistent practice of Bishops Lawrence Shehan, Walter Curtis, and Edward Egan — over four decades — of leaving abusive priests in service, and thereby making it possible for them to continue committing abusive acts."
The report goes on to say, "[W]e conclude that in the final analysis it does not excuse Bishops Curtis and Egan for their profound failure to promptly identify and respond effectively and compassionately to an unfolding legal, moral, and religious crisis that, even without the benefit of hindsight, was, or should have been, obvious and apparent."
The report then goes on to say: "Until 1990, Bishops Curtis and Egan failed even to acknowledge, let alone comply with, their legal obligations arising from the 1971 state law mandating that priests report allegations of child sexual abuse to either law enforcement or the Department of Children and Families."
It also said he "abdicated his responsibility to protect the safety of young parishioners when incidents of sexual abuse were brought to his attention," saying he reassigned abusive priests to other parishes without informing the priests or parishioners why they were moved.
The response to sex abuse victims by future cardinal of New York, Bp. Egan is called "profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate, and inflammatory," adding that "he believed his principal responsibility was to preserve the assets and reputation of the diocese rather than to work for the well-being of survivors and secure justice for them."
Besides also moving around sex abusers, the report says Egan "followed a scorched-earth litigation policy that re-victimized survivor plaintiffs, dissipated valuable diocesan assets in bad-faith procedural maneuvers, and alienated large segments of the laity, the clergy, and the wider public."
Caggiano has pledged to do what he can to heal the relationship between the diocese and Catholics.