Crime Beat: Explosive Documents Finally Unsealed, Rip Open Cardinal Egan's Sex-Abuse Coverup as Connecticut Bishop

Cardinal sins: Years after his woeful behavior in the priest sex-abuse scandal, Edward Egan moved to New York and became a cardinal. Here he is with President George W. Bush. (Egan is the one who's not praying.)
Cardinal sins: Years after his woeful behavior in the priest sex-abuse scandal, Edward Egan moved to New York and became a cardinal. Here he is with President George W. Bush. (Egan is the one who's not praying.)

Documents long sealed and finally released against the Catholic Church's wishes reveal details of Cardinal Edward Egan's coverup of sex abuse by priests while he was a Connecticut bishop, the New York Times and other papers report. Several media outlets fought the Church all the way to the Supreme Court to get the documents unsealed.

The best account — "Cardinal Edward Egan Protected Abusive Priests At Victims' Expense: Secret Documents On Priest Abuse Released After Seven Year Battle" — is in the Hartford Courant, which also has numerous links to the huge trove of documents.

Egan, now one of the Church's most powerful leaders, inherited the massive Bridgeport, Connecticut, scandal from his predecessor, Walter Curtis. But Lord have mercy on Egan's stunning lack of action on priests who molested children, including his failures to refer complaints to prosecutors, his decisions to allow suspected priests to continue working, and his refusal to meet with accusers.

The documents and videotapes were part of a monumental case of 23 suits against seven priests. The cases were settled, but the Church fought like Hell to keep the material sealed.

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And no wonder. During a 1999 deposition, the Times story says, "he stopped in his description of church policies to challenge the notion that any abuse had actually occurred." The paper then quotes Egan as saying in the deposition, "Incidentally, these things don't happen, and we are talking about ifs."

To which one of the lawyers for the accusers replied, "Forgive me, Father -- Bishop. But these things do happen because that's the reason why we're seated here today."

Who should be forgiving whom is only one of the issues in the stacks of documents and tapes.


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