Monthly Newspaper • DIOCESE OF BRIDGEPORT

Bishop provides update on Accountability Report

My Brothers and Sisters in the Lord:

In my letter of September 7, 2018, I announced the urgent need for administrative action with regards to the current crisis in the Church. Several initiatives have already begun and additional initiatives are planned. I am pleased to take this opportunity to report on these efforts.

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Retired Judge Robert Holzberg to lead Accountability Investigation

BRIDGEPORT—Bishop Frank J. Caggiano today (October 3) announced that retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, who is a partner in the law firm of Pullman & Comley LLC of Hartford and Bridgeport, will serve as counsel and lead investigator for the Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Investigation being conducted for the Diocese of Bridgeport.

Judge Holzberg, who has extensive experience as an investigator, mediator and arbitrator, will lead the Accountability Investigation by overseeing a comprehensive analysis and review of claims of clerical sexual abuse of minors, the Diocese’s knowledge of such abuse and its response to allegations and information presented to it concerning the alleged clergy abuse. As part of his investigation, Holzberg, a Middletown resident, will have complete and unrestricted access to all Diocesan files, records and archives dating from 1953, when the Diocese was founded, to the present, and the opportunity to interview Diocesan clergy and administrators with information relevant to his inquiry.

Work on the Accountability Investigation will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by Spring 2019. Judge Holzberg, who is not Catholic, will direct a team of attorneys and investigators to conduct the investigation.

Results of the investigation will be presented in a public report that will address sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Diocese of Bridgeport, along with the response of Church leadership to that abuse. The report will also contain any relevant recommendations to the Bishop resulting from the review.

“Judge Holzberg epitomizes long-term, dedicated and conscientious service to the community,” Bishop Caggiano said. “He possesses the highest integrity, and he has made substantial contributions to the administration of justice in Connecticut. We are grateful that he has agreed to lead this significant review.”

“I am committed to supervising a comprehensive, impartial and transparent investigation into clergy sexual abuse of minors and the Diocese’s response to that abuse over the past 65 years. As a condition of taking on this assignment, I met with and obtained the commitment of Bishop Caggiano that I will have full and unlimited access to all materials relevant to this investigation and that I will have full discretion to conduct this investigation as I deem appropriate. Bishop Caggiano pledged his full cooperation and commitment to this important initiative,” Holzberg said.

Prior to his retirement from the bench in 2012, Holzberg successfully mediated claims against St. Francis Hospital in Hartford involving allegations of decades long sexual abuse of minors by a hospital employee. In 2014 Holzberg was retained by the Stamford Corporation Counsel to lead an investigation into allegations that a Stamford Board of Education high school teacher was involved in a sexual relationship with her student.

The Bishop personally met with Judge Holzberg and assured him that he would have the full and unfettered access to Diocesan records and files necessary for a comprehensive review.

Bishop Caggiano announced plans for the Accountability Investigation on September 7 in response to the national clerical sexual abuse crisis and failures of Church leadership in accountability and transparency.

His letter was read in parishes throughout the diocese and widely distributed through the diocesan newspaper, website, and social media. He announced plans for the report and outlined some of the spiritual and administrative actions that the diocese will take to ensure transparency and accountability.

“My hope is that these measures will begin to heal the wounds that we feel and address the legitimate desire for real change that restores confidence in every level of leadership,” he said.

The Bishop also committed to presenting a financial report on settlement amounts for past claims of clergy sexual abuse of minors from the establishment of the diocese to date. The report will include sources from which funds were obtained to settle claims and provide an account of the financial support currently given to any priest who has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor and who is currently on administrative leave or has been laicized. The report will be released on October 31.

“These measures also build upon the extensive work we have done since 2002 to reach out to and support survivors of clergy sexual abuse in addition to providing the training and safeguards to protect our children and ensure that adults recognize the warning signs of any potential abuse,” Bishop Caggiano said.

“I believe that the Church is facing a moment of crisis that demands honesty and repentance from the bishops and decisive action to ensure that these failures will never happen again,” Bishop Caggiano said.

 

About Judge Holzberg (Ret.)

Retired Judge Robert Holzberg leads the Alternative Dispute Resolution practice at the law firm of Pullman & Comley, LLC. He has extensive experience serving as a mediator and arbitrator in civil matters in state and federal court, including personal injury, employment, construction, environmental, probate, insurance, intellectual property and commercial disputes.

He retired from the bench in September 2012 after more than 22 years of service as a Superior Court judge.

He was appointed to the Superior Court in 1990 by Gov. William O’Neill. While on the bench, he served as the presiding judge for civil matters in the Middlesex, New Britain and Waterbury judicial districts. During his career, he earned a reputation for his skill in crafting settlements in some of Connecticut’s highest profile and most complex cases and became one of the state’s most sought-after mediators.

He has received several awards, including the 2011 Connecticut Bar Association’s Henry J. Naruk Award for distinguished service and the 2005 Hon. Robert F. Zampano Award for Excellence in Mediation. In 1998, he received the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association Judicial Award.

Before his appointment to the bench, he was on the faculty of the University of Connecticut School of Law and also served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Chief Public Defender. He is a frequent speaker and author on the topic of mediation and arbitration. He has been an invited speaker on ADR strategies for the Practicing Law Institute, the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association, the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association and the Hartford County Bar Association. Holzberg serves as co-chair with Retired Chief Justice Chase Rogers of Day Pitney LLP of Connecticut Lawyers for Immigration Justice. www.ctjustice.org

Pullman & Comley will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019 and is one of Connecticut’s largest firms, providing a wide range of legal services to clients in the New England region, as well as throughout the United States and internationally. The firm has offices in Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, and Westport, Connecticut and White Plains, New York. The firm is an active member of the Law Firm Alliance, an international affiliation of law firms. For more information, please visit www.pullcom.com.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:
Brian Wallace, Director of Communications
Diocese of Bridgeport
Email: bdwallace@diobpt.org
Phone: 203.416.1464

Sally Laroche
Pullman & Comley, LLC
Email: slaroche@pullcom.com
Phone: 203.330.2007

Bishop Caggiano’s Statement on Abuse Crisis

OFFICE OF THE BISHOP

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As the recent scandalous events regarding the crimes of sexual abuse against minors have come to light in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the earlier revelations regarding Archbishop McCarrick, I have been sick to my stomach. Words like horrifying, betrayal, and diabolical come to mind describing the evil abuse that was perpetrated against children, who were robbed of their innocence, and often of their faith and future. The failure of some bishops to report this evil is equally stunning and deeply sinful.

I believe that the Church is facing a moment of crisis that demands honesty and repentance from the bishops and decisive action to ensure that these failures will never happen again. The credibility of the bishops has been tarnished in the eyes of many, including many of our faithful. For some, it has even provoked a personal crisis of confidence in the Church itself, leading some to consider leaving their parishes. This is a wound that has been inflicted upon the Church that will not heal easily.

I invite you to join me to accompany one another during this time of sadness and anger and to strengthen one another in our Catholic faith. The strengthening of faith requires that the bishops of the Church acknowledge past failings among their brother bishops and hold everyone guilty accountable for their failures and crimes, whomever they may be.

The betrayal we feel concerning the cover-up of abuse pales in comparison to the suffering endured by the victims of sexual abuse—our sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, relatives and friends, who have been so deeply wounded and have struggled with the lifelong consequences of abuse. To those who suffered the evil of abuse, I wish to say that I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering that you have endured. I am sorry for the times that you came forward and were not heard. I am sorry for the silence of those who could have stopped what you endured. I am sorry that you were betrayed at the hands of those who were to serve as your fathers in faith.

We stand with you and will continue to accompany you with our prayers and resources to find healing and peace. We must make this a defining moment for all those who have suffered, by doing everything humanly possible to root out the sin of sexual abuse from our Church.

Over the past few days, I have read intently many of the concrete proposals that bishops and lay leaders have put forward to address the past failures in leadership and to strengthen the measures already in place ensuring that our children, young people and vulnerable adults are safe and can flourish in our midst. Some of the proposals are innovative and merit greater reflection. It is my hope and prayer that through honest dialogue and careful reflection, the Church’s clerical and lay leaders on every level can create a plan to bring purification and renewal to our Church.

Despite the raw emotions that we may be feeling during this difficult time, I would encourage us to resist the impulse to despair or dismiss the sacrificial work of so many good priests whom you have come to know in your life of faith. For our good priests are also suffering because of the sins of their brothers.

It is also important that we not lose sight of the tremendous protections now in place in our diocese and other dioceses across the country. For over fifteen years, our Safe Environment programs have been effective in preventing abuse, encouraging early reporting, and ensuring swift removal of perpetrators through the Diocesan Review Board. Contact information for our Safe Environment Office can be found on the diocesan website and in the back of the Church. In our Diocese, we have also established a Misconduct Review Board, composed principally of lay members, to review any allegations of adult misconduct on the part of clergy.

Perhaps we have never been so aware of our frailty. Yet, while this is a serious time of challenge and crisis in the Church, there is always hope. I don’t come to you with an easy solution to a complex evil, but I believe that if we move forward in the solidarity of faith, a spirit of transparency and commitment to absolute accountability, we will renew the Church.

My friends, I am praying for you and your families each day at Mass during this difficult time. Please pray for me and my brother priests as well.

May the great Mother of God, our protector and intercessor, accompany us as we move forward to purify and renew our Church.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano Bishop of Bridgeport

Bishop Caggiano Letter 8-18-18 ESPANOL[2].pdf

INSTRUCCIONES PARA DENUNCIAR 2018 sospecha de abuso (1)[3].pdf