September 7, 2019
It is with deep regret that I must inform you of the inclusion of two deceased priests of the diocese on the list of those credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. Father Vincent P. Cleary, deceased in 1989, who served at St. Augustine Parish between 1944 and 1959, and Monsignor William Genuario, deceased in 2015, former pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Parish of Riverside, will be added to the list of priests credibly accused for allegations which date back more than thirty (30) years.
Father Vincent P. Cleary was ordained in 1944, and in addition to serving at St. Augustine Parish, served at St. John Parish in Stamford, St. Joseph Parish in South Norwalk and was the pastor of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Stratford from 1963 until his death in 1989. It is critical to note that there were two Father Vincent P. Clearys and a Father Joseph Cleary who all served in the Diocese of Bridgeport. There are no allegations against the other Father Vincent P. Cleary, who was ordained in 1939 and died in 1965, nor are there allegations against Father Joseph Cleary, who was ordained in 1933 and died in 1971.
In our ongoing review of allegations of sexual abuse against deceased priests (recall that until approximately one year ago, the Review Board did not review allegations against deceased priests), one allegation against Father Vincent P. Cleary was uncovered. Within the last several months, another allegation came forward against Father Cleary that provided strong substantiation to the prior claim. Both claims date back to more than fifty years ago. The Review Board, upon consideration of both claims, found credibility. I concur with their finding and accept their recommendation regarding Father Cleary.
Monsignor Genuario served at St. Catherine for 17 years beginning in 1987, retiring as the pastor there in 2004. In addition to service to many other parishes, Monsignor also served in a number of senior roles in the diocese, including Vicar General and Judicial Vicar in the Marriage Tribunal. In both 2002 and 2004, when claims of abuse from many years earlier were brought forward, the Diocesan Review Board reviewed, but did not find credibility, with these allegations.
However, the Diocese has since received notice of another allegation of abuse against Monsignor Genuario, also dating back more than thirty years. Upon receipt of this additional allegation, I asked our current Review Board to review all the allegations against Monsignor Genuario. The Board met on several occasions and considered the available information on the recent allegation, as well as the information on the earlier allegations, including information provided by Monsignor while he was alive. Be assured that we took all measures to fairly and thoroughly investigate these allegations while recognizing that Monsignor, now deceased, was unable to defend himself against the most recent allegation. After a full review, the Board has recommended a finding of credibility. I concur with their finding and accept their recommendation.
I realize that the inclusion of two more of our clergy on our list of credibly accused is distressing news and further wounds our Church and our family of faith. Know that we remain committed to transparency in the handling of cases and will continue to pursue the truth on behalf of those that we serve.
I ask your prayers for all involved and pledge that we as a diocese will work 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.