Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Diocese settles


Bridgeport diocese settles lawsuit with Powel family
Daniel Tepfer, Staff Writer
Updated 12:25 a.m., Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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View: Larger | Hide . photo of Michael Powel taken in 1969 at age 10 and at the time he would have been a student and parishioner at St. Peter's parish in Bridgeport, CT. parish in Bridgeport. Michael had begun being abused by Carlo Fabbozzi during the year prior, 1968, while working with Fabbozzi and Michael's brother Luke at St. Theresa's parish in Trumbull.
Photo: Contributed Photo / Connecticut Post Contributed | Buy This Photo
photo of Michael Powel taken in 1969 at age 10 and at the time...
(FILE) Anne Barrett Doyle, left, co-director of Bishop Accountability.org, holds a photo accused priest Raymond Pcolka, and abuse victim Gail Howard of Norwalk holds a photo of fellow victim Michael Powel, at a protest outside Bridgeport Superior Court in December 2009.
Photo: Brian A. Pounds / Connecticut Post | Buy This Photo (FILE) Anne Barrett Doyle, left, co-director of Bishop...

BRIDGEPORT -- The Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport has agreed to pay $200,000 to the family of a man who claimed he was abused as a child by first a gardener and then a priest at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull in the 1970s.

Michael Powel died in October 2008 after an eight-year battle with cancer, but his wife and two adult children continued his lawsuit against the diocese. The agreement would end the family's claims against the diocese.

"It has been a long road, and it's really unfortunate Mike couldn't be here to see the end of it," said the family's lawyer, Michael Reck.

Diocesan spokesman Brian Wallace said the church does not believe it committed any wrongdoing. "But its just too expensive to continue to defend against this frivolous lawsuit brought by out-of-state lawyers who are practicing a pattern of trolling for lawsuits across the country," he said. "The diocese remains committed to zero tolerance to abuse and a safe environment."

Powel won a $10 million verdict five years ago that he was never able to collect against Carlo Fabbozzi, a former janitor/landscaper at St. Theresa's Church in Trumbull. Powel claimed Fabbozzi had sexually abused him in the late 1960s and early '70s. Powel later claimed that after Fabbozzi abused him a priest then assigned to St. Theresa's, the Rev. Joseph Gorecki, also abused him in 1971.

Powel also had made allegations of being sexually abused by a former Boy Scout troop leader in Easton and by two clergymen who were teachers at a college prep school Powel attended in Missouri.

Powel, who grew up in Bridgeport and later moved to Florida, first told Bishop William Lori and diocesan officials about the alleged abuse by Fabbozzi in 2002. He claimed he was one of several boys working with Fabbozzi at St. Theresa's and that Fabbozzi had molested him several times in a shed on church grounds.

Diocesan officials, however, maintained Fabbozzi was not a diocesan employee and that the diocese was not a party in Powel's lawsuit against Fabbozzi. During the Fabbozzi trial in Superior Court, Monsignor Laurence Bronkiewicz testified, via a videotaped deposition, that he interviewed Fabbozzi shortly after Powel's allegations became public. He said Fabbozzi admitted to him that he abused Powel.

Bronkiewicz, a former diocesan chancellor, testified that after another person came forward with abuse allegations against Fabbozzi, he told the pastor of St. Theresa's Church to fire Fabbozzi.

After going public with his abuse allegations, Powel became a vocal critic of the way the diocese had handled allegations of sexual abuse by clergy.

Lori had a letter read to parishioners across the diocese castigating Powel. "Mr. Powel's `Lawn Man Liability Theory' goes where no other liability claims against Catholic institutions have gone before," Lori stated in the letter. "Imagine if you were held responsible for what your lawn man, plumber, or electrician may have done over 40 years ago! This is what the diocese is now fighting."

Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a national support group for clergy abuse victims, said, "Over and over, Catholic officials vilified Michael. Now, for the second time, he has been vindicated.

"We hope that Bishop Lori has the decency to publicly apologize to Michael's family for his callous actions. We also hope that Monsignor Laurence Bronkiewicz, who kept silent about a parish employee's admission of child sex abuse, does the same."

Lori, who became bishop 10 years ago, has been credited with dealing swiftly with priests who are sex offenders and for creating a model program to provide a safe environment for children.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Bridgeport-diocese-settles-lawsuit-with-Powel-1234629.php#ixzz1HJqNilM3

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