An independent investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Bridgeport has identified 281 victims of abuse over the past 65 years.
The report on the investigation, which was done by retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, was released on Tuesday.
Holzberg discussed the report during a news conference Tuesday morning and said they believe there are more victims.
He said his investigation found 71 priests within the Bridgeport Diocese who were credibly accused of sexual abuse. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 18 years old.
He also blamed several bishops who served the diocese for what he called "misplaced priorities."
"The priests who committed these ghastly acts engaged in criminal acts, they violated their vows and their canonical obligations, and the bishops who failed to report violated their obligations under the mandated reporting law," Holzberg said.
There were likely more victims that were not identified because Bishop Walter Curtis, who served from 1961-1988, admitted to destroying records and purging files, according to Holzberg.
The investigation revealed a lack of compassion for the victims of sexual abuse by the bishops who were leading the diocese. Holzberg said Bishop Edward Egan, who served from 1988-2000, considered his main priority was to protect the diocese and the institution of the Catholic church, and not to protect the young victims or the rest of the congregation.
"As a result of that attitude and those misplaced priorities, we conclude that there was a fundamental and deep-seeded failure to implement and carry out policies that would protect the children of the diocese, and to remove known or suspected abusers from service.
Egan left the diocese in 2000 and was appointed a cardinal and the Archbishop of New York.
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