In 2018, the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport retained Attorney Robert L. Holzberg of Pullman & Comley to investigate clergy sexual abuse of minors.
Holzberg and his team had access to 250,000 Diocesan records dating from 1953.
Holzberg’s team interviewed clergy and administrators.
By 2019, Holzberg’s team identified 281 victims who had made “credible” claims of sexual abuse over 66 years. That’s 4.2 victims per year.
He found 71 priests were “credibly accused” – 4.7% of the approximately 1,500 priests who have served the Diocese since 1953. Ten priests were responsible for 61 percent of the reported incidents.
“Credibly accused” was defined as having “substantial evidence” to support the claim. Holzberg used an 8th Circuit decision to determine “substantial evidence” as “less than a preponderance, but enough that a reasonable mind would find it adequate to support the conclusion.”
The church paid $56 million in settlements, with stipulations of silence on the part of those who received the money.
Each act of credible abuse in Holzberg’s report constitutes a crime under Connecticut law. Had the priests been referred to law enforcement authorities, they might have been subject to prosecution. Instead, the Diocese’s practice was to transfer abusive priests to other parishes or grant them “leaves of absence.”
Most “credibly accused” abusers escaped prosecution.
Before investigating priests, Holzberg was a judge of the Superior Court of Connecticut for 22 years. He retired from the bench in 2012. His law partner at Pullman and Comley is Lynda Munro, a former family court judge.
Former CT Judges Holzberg and Munro
If Holzberg used the same investigative techniques he used to investigate priests who went unpunished in CT Family Court, would he uncover as many as 4.2 victims per year?
Could he find 71 “credibly accused” parents who CT Family Court Judges did not refer for prosecution?
Might he find CT Family Court flipped custody to the credibly accused parent, rather than transferring the abusive parent away from the child?
Contrary to the Diocese, which transferred a priest to another diocese, there have been complaints that CT Family Court flips custody away from the parent who accuses.
Are any of these custody losing parent’s accusations credible?
Former Judge Holzberg, with his expertise, could weigh in.