By Bill Cummings, CT Post, HARTFORD, CT (January 22, 2019) — The Archdiocese of Hartford on Tuesday revealed it paid nearly $51 million to settle sex abuse claims against priests dating to 1953.
The Diocese said no priests currently serving are accused of sexual misconduct as officials released a list of those who had been the subject of “credible” claims of abuse, mostly involving minor children.
“It is a cause of profound sorrow and soul searching for me that we bishops have often failed to grasp the spiritual and moral devastation that results from sexual abuse,” Archbishop Leonard P. Blair said.
Priests included on the list of those accused of misconduct are Felix Maguire, who ministered in West Haven; Robert Ladamus, of Milford, who died in 2012; and Howard J. Nash, who died in 2001.
“We are glad the Archdiocese of Hartford is taking a step toward transparency but it is such a small step after so many decades of abuse,” said Gail Howard, director of the state’s branch of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.
“It makes me want to say, ‘thanks, but now I need civil authorities to step forward and respond.’” Howard said.
In October, the Bridgeport Diocese announced it paid $52.5 million to settle 156 allegations of sex abuse claims since the early 1950s. The diocese covers 82 Roman Catholic parishes in Fairfield County.
The Hartford Archdiocese, which covers Hartford, Litchfield and New Haven counties, reported it paid $50.6 million to settle 142 claims involving 29 archdiocesan clergy and three priests from other dioceses.
“Since 1953, 36 archdiocesan clergy have been credibly accused, of whom 23 are now deceased,” the archdiocese said in a statement.
“In addition, there have been six religious order priests and six priests from other dioceses who offended within the Archdiocese,” the Archdiocese said.
The Archdiocese said 20 credible claims were made against one priest, and noted that most of the allegations involved abuse of minor children.
“It should be noted that 98 percent of settlements paid were for allegations of abuse of a minor that occurred before 1990,” the archdiocese said.
The Archdiocese defined a “credible claim” as one in which “the circumstances would cause a prudent person to conclude that there was a significant possibility that the incident occurred.”
One name on the list, the Rev. Howard J. Nash, who died in 2001 at age 66, came as a shock to members of St. Bernadette Church on Townsend Avenue in New Haven’s Morris Cove section.
Nash was widely respected for his efforts at racial reconciliation and was co-president of Interfaith Cooperative Ministries.
The Rev. Boise Kimber of First Calvary Baptist Church said he found Nash to be a man of integrity.
“As a cleric who worked closely with Father Nash on various humanitarian concerns in the community, I found him to be a man of strong integrity who cared deeply about the flourishing of humanity,” Kimber said.
“I am both (saddened) and surprised to learn that his name would be associated with such allegations, and my sincere prayers goes out to all parties involved, including the decedents family and friends as we seek to make sense of this very important pressing issue confronting our society, and particularly, our church communities,” Kimber said.
Vincent Gagliardi, a 40-year member of St. Bernadette, said he was shocked tp learn Nash’s name was on the list of accused sexual abusers.
“Basically, it’s a shock to hear that,” Gagliardi said. “He was in the parish many, many years and highly respected by many in the parish. He also was concerned with race relations and very friendly with minority clergy.”
Of the total payments made by the Archdiocese, $26.1 million came from insurance recoveries and $24.5 million came from a general reserve fund, the Archdiocese said.
Church officials, including Blair, on Monday met with priests at the St. Thomas Seminary to share details of the report.
The Archdiocese also announced that it has hired former state Judge Antonio Robaina to conduct an independent review of church records from 1953.
In October 2016, Stamford lawyer Ernest Teitell settled an abuse case against the archdiocese on behalf of a 13-year-old boy who claimed he was repeatedly sexually assaulted in 2000 and 2001 by the Rev. Edward Tissera at St. John the Evangelist Church in Watertown. Judge Robaina mediated that case.
“Transparency and an investigation into what happened in the Archdiocese is better for the public and the victims because they get to see there is accountability,” Teitell said.
The Bridgeport Diocese’s settlement total was disclosed in a similar financial accountability report released by Bishop Frank Caggiano.
Caggiano said at the time of the report’s release, “My heart breaks at the harm to victims and betrayal of the faithful caused by the sin of abuse, and the Church’s repeated failure to act decisively and transparently to protect young people. I wish to express my heartfelt apology to all those affected by this tragedy. I also recognize that restoring trust will require the heroic witness of holiness on the part of every priest, especially myself.”
In a video statement, Blair asked for forgiveness.
“I ask, the Church must ask, for forgiveness from those who have been victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, and from their parents, siblings, and friends,” Blair said.
“Healing and reconciliation continue to be an essential but not easy goal, given the terrible effects that these sins and crimes can cause in the lives of victims, to whom the Church owes the deepest expression of sorrow and apology,” Blair said.
Here is the list of priests accused of sexual misconduct as released by the Archdiocese of Hartford:
Priests and Transitional Deacons of the Archdiocese of Hartford:
Externs (Priests belonging to another Archdiocese/Diocese):
Religious Order Priests:
Staff writer Daniel Tepfer contributed to this story.