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    Friday, September 30, 2022

    Norwich diocese will release names of priests accused of sexual assault

    Norwich — The Diocese of Norwich announced Thursday that at the end of next month it will release a list of priests and deacons who have been “credibly accused” of sexual assault.

    The diocese's announcement comes a few days after a diocesan spokesman said he had no information about whether the diocese would follow others across the country, including Hartford and Bridgeport, in releasing the names of clergy members accused of sexual assault over the years.

    "As Bishop (Michael) Cote stated in his Pastoral letter that went out to all parishioners in August, 'We in the Diocese will continue to follow an absolute zero tolerance policy toward those who committed crimes against God's children. There is no higher priority within the Diocese than the protection and spiritual welfare of our young. The Diocese of Norwich continues our longstanding commitment to the support and healing of victim-survivors of abuse and reaffirms our commitment to protect our children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm,'" stated the announcement.

    Diocese spokesman Wayne Gignac did not respond Thursday to a question about how the diocese defines “credibly accused” and what criteria will be used to make that determination.

    Two men who recently accused diocesan priests of sexual assault were skeptical Tuesday of the diocese’s intentions.

    “I have to see it to believe it,” said John “Tim” McGuire of New London, who recently accused the late Rev. James Curry of sexually assaulting him on four occasions when he was 8 years old at St. Joseph’s Church in Noank.

    “I’m not sure what they have up their sleeve. All of a sudden, everyone wants to do the right thing. I’m not sure if they’re doing it because the Pope is saying to do it or what,” he said.

    Deacon Mark King, who recently accused the Rev. Gregory Mullaney, the pastor of St. Agnes Church in Niantic, of trying to sexually assault him and repeatedly propositioning him for sex during a trip to Rome in 2006, said Thursday that he’s disappointed “that it’s taken years to get to this point.”

    “It’s sad that the only reason we’re seeing moves to release names now is because of the efforts of victims, those in the pews, state attorneys-general, and a handful of clergy. I pray for full disclosure, by all dioceses, of those credibly accused of both sexual misconduct with children AND adults. This is truly a moral crisis in the church. In addition to the offenders, we’ve got to hold church leadership accountable as well,” he said.

    King, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., also questioned how the diocese will define “credibly accused" and "vulnerable adults.” In King’s case, he was allegedly assaulted by Mullaney, his superior at Sacred Heart Church in Groton, where both men served at the time. Cote recently told St. Agnes parishioners that Mullaney, who has admitted to King’s allegations, remains a priest in good standing.

    King also pointed Thursday to a recent controversy in Illinois, where the attorney general there has harshly criticized Catholic dioceses in that state for not including the names of more than 500 priests accused of sexual assualt from the list it released to the public.