New Priest-Affair Shock

New York Post/April 12, 2002

When he was bishop of Bridgeport, Conn., Cardinal Edward M. Egan didn't tell cops about a sexual relationship between a 15-year-old girl and a priest that amounted to statutory rape under state law, it was reported today.

Egan, now head of the Archdiocese of New York, let Joseph Michael DeShan leave the priesthood, the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Post of Bridgeport reported.

After the young woman told DeShan she was pregnant, she was fired as a receptionist at the rectory of the Bridgeport cathedral - and says today she's angry that the church hid DeShan's misconduct.

"People shouldn't be naive," she said. "The church hides things, too."

The relationship began in 1988. The woman said she and DeShan sometimes had sex in the Bridgeport rectory - and nearly got caught twice, once by a nun and another time when a discarded condom was found on the floor.

When the woman became pregnant, DeShan - now a fifth-grade public-school teacher in Cinnaminson, N.J. - gave church officials her name and said she worked at the cathedral rectory, Bridgeport diocese spokesman Joseph McAleer told The Courant.

Now 28, the mother is raising her daughter in Bridgeport. "I was young and naive and had very low self-esteem and he was this priest who could do no wrong," she told the Bridgeport paper.

The mother said she lived with DeShan until their daughter was 2, first in a Vermont cabin and later with DeShan's parents in New Jersey.

"His parents didn't know my age, and he told me not to tell them. I felt the whole situation wasn't right," she said.

Eventually, she took their daughter and moved in with her family in Bridgeport.

At first, she said, DeShan visited her in Bridgeport. But after he got married, the mother said, "his wife had a problem with him visiting our daughter," she told the Bridgeport paper. "He just dropped off the face of the Earth after that."

DeShan still sends a monthly support check of $348, but has no other contact with her or the child. He and his wife, a doctor, have two children and live in a Philadelphia suburb.

In a brief interview in a parking lot outside his school, DeShan did not dispute the details of the relationship but declined to say whether Egan knew of the girl's age, The Courant said.

"It was a consensual relationship that didn't work out," he said. "I have no ax to grind with the church."

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