Bridgeport -- A Catholic priest has been placed on administrative leave after credible evidence was found that he abused a child 35 years ago, according to the Bridgeport Diocese.
“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,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in a letter to parishioners dated Aug. 24.
Gleeson retired on June 30, 2013, after nearly 50 years of service as a priest, most recently as the pastor of St. Stephen Parish in Trumbull. Caggiano said Gleeson is prohibited from any future ministry.
The bishop said his decision was made after the diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board ruled that there is credible evidence of an incident of sexual abuse of a minor on the part of the priest more than 35 years ago.
No details of the abuse were released. Representatives of the St. Stephen Parish did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to an article on the Fairfield County Catholic website at his retirement, Gleeson is a Bridgeport native and Fairfield Prep graduate. He was appointed parochial vicar in 1963 at St. John the Evangelist in Stamford and later served at St. Ann Parish in Bridgeport, St. Mary in Stamford, St. Theresa in Trumbull and, beginning in 1977, St. Stephen.
In 1968, the website said, Gleeson was named chaplain and religion teacher at the former Presentation High School (part of St. Mary Parish in Stamford).
Caggiano said the diocese first became aware of accusations in 2002 but 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,” the bishop said.
The diocese notified the Connecticut Department of Children and Families immediately, the bishop said, but given the limited information available and the time which had passed, DCF did not accept the matter for investigation, Caggiano said.
The bishop said the lengthy investigation by the review board included interviews with the priest, the victim, and others.
“The Review Board, after several deliberative sessions, ultimately found that the allegation was credible,” Caggiano said. “Please be assured that we took all measures to fairly and thoroughly investigate the allegations while protecting the privacy of the victim.
“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, the Bishop said. “Diocesan personnel will be available to the parishioners of St. Stephen, where Father Gleeson served for so many years.”
The bishop stated that diocese officials are not aware of any other allegations of misconduct involving minors by Gleeson during his ministry.
“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,” the bishop stated.
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