Bridgeport Diocese Priests Abused Children, Suits Say

Crime, Law and JusticeTrials and ArbitrationSexual MisconductSexual AssaultSocial IssuesAbusive BehaviorJustice System

Lawsuits filed this week contain new allegations that priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport sexually assaulted children.

Lawsuits against the diocese accuse the Revs. Kieran Ahearn, Joseph H. Gorecki and Raymond Pcolka of assaulting children while the priests were assigned to parishes in Westport, Norwalk and Bethel in the past two decades.

The lawsuits, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court and state Superior Court, claim the diocese conspired to keep secret the priests' alleged sexual abuse of children.

Gorecki, who left the Catholic priesthood in 1978 to join a small breakaway sect, died at age 61 in 1988. Ahearn, currently on a leave of absence from the priesthood, is on probation after his criminal trial last year for assaulting a minor in Massachusetts.

Fifteen people have already filed suits in Superior Court accusing Pcolka of sexually assaulting them while they were children in the 1960s and ‘70s, at rectories in Bridgeport and Stratford.

Bridgeport lawyer T. Paul Tremont, who represents all but two of the alleged assault victims, said he hopes to get access to more information from the diocese in federal court than he has been granted by a state judge.

The two lawsuits filed in federal court are by a New York man who says he was sexually assaulted by Ahearn in a motel in Massachusetts in 1993 when he was 16, and by a New York woman who says Pcolka sexually assaulted her in a cabin in New Hampshire in the 1970s when she was 13.

Two lawsuits filed by two local men in state court Wednesday claim Gorecki sexually assaulted them in the 1970s when they were 11 in the rectories of Assumption Church in Westport, St. Mary's Church in Norwalk and at SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Bridgeport.

The third lawsuit filed by a local man in state court accuses Pcolka of sexually assaulting him when he was 8 or 9 years old at the New Hampshire cabin.

"Attorney Tremont persists in claiming that diocesan officials were aware of and responsible for the alleged abusive conduct. The diocese reiterates its categorical denial of this claim and looks forward to having these issues resolved through our court system," a diocesan spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Walsh, said in a statement. "The diocese has expressed and continues to express its concern and compassion for anyone who may have been harmed by these alleged activities of misconduct."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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