August 24, 2019
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with deep regret that I must inform you that I have put Father Stephen Gleeson on administrative leave and have removed his faculties to exercise public ministry as a priest.
Father Gleeson retired on June 30, 2013 after nearly 50 years of service as a priest, most recently as the pastor of St. Stephen Parish. My decision was made after our Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board ruled that there is credible evidence of an incident of sexual abuse of a minor on the part of Father Gleeson more than 35 years ago. Although the incident happened many years ago, the Diocese first became aware of it in 2002. At that time, there was insufficient information to find the allegation credible. However, in light of a new review based on certain additional information, it has been determined that there is credibility associated with this allegation.
In accordance with both state reporting mandates and the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (the “Charter”), we notified the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) immediately. Given the limited information available and the time which had passed, DCF did not accept the matter for investigation.
At the same time, I convened the Sexual Misconduct Review Board and commenced an investigation into the allegations. The lengthy investigation included interviews with the accused, the victim, and others. The Review Board, after several deliberative sessions, ultimately found that the allegation was credible. Please be assured that we took all measures to fairly and thoroughly investigate the allegations while protecting the privacy of the victim.
As a result and in accordance with the Charter, Father Gleeson is prohibited from any future ministry. Lay leadership of St. Stephen Parish was notified of my action in advance of this letter. We have taken steps to work with Father Gleeson in this transition, and the services of our diocesan clergy counselor have been made available to him. Diocesan personnel will be available to the parishioners of St. Stephen, where Father Gleeson served for so many years.
It is important to note that we are not aware of any other allegations of misconduct involving minors by Father Gleeson during his ministry. While a finding of credibility under the Charter has occurred, Father Gleeson will have the opportunity to choose to participate in a canonical trial to review the evidence in order to determine guilt or innocence.
I realize that this is distressing news for the faithful and it further wounds the diocese and our Church as a family of faith. I can only reassure you that we remain committed to transparency in the handling of cases. It is for that reason that you are hearing of this news from me first.
I ask your prayers for all involved and pledge that we as a diocese will continue to do everything in our power to fulfill the sacred obligation we share to protect children, youth and vulnerable adults in our community.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Frank J. Caggiano,
Bishop of Bridgeport
To report suspected abuse involving a minor, recently or in the past, contact: Erin Neil, L.C.S.W., diocesan director of Safe Environments: 203.650.3265; or Michael Tintrup, L.C.S.W., victim assistance counselor: 203.241.0987. Mandated reporters must also directly report any incident of sexual abuse of a minor to the State of Connecticut Child Abuse and Neglect care line: 800.842.2288.