MICHAEL R. COTE, D.D.
November 3, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One year ago, as part of our ongoing commitment to protect our children and young people, the Diocese of Norwich published a list of clergy who have had substantive allegations made against them regarding sexual abuse of a minor. The list, presented in February of 2019, was the result of a review of all clergy files by an independent team of volunteer lay people with law enforcement and canonical expertise. I am grateful that they so willingly gave of their time in undertaking this very important task.
Understanding that a more extensive review of Diocesan records would further elucidate this initial work, in April of 2019, I met with retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Michael E. Riley, a member of the Internal Investigations and Alternative Dispute Resolution practice at the law firm of Pullman & Comley. Following this meeting, I invited Judge Riley to lead a Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Investigation for the Diocese of Norwich. Since last October, Judge Riley has been overseeing a comprehensive analysis and review of claims of clerical sexual abuse of minors, the Diocese’s knowledge of such abuse, and its response to allegations it received.
As part of his investigation, Judge Riley has been given complete and unrestricted access to all Diocesan files, records, and archives dating back to the establishment of the Diocese in 1953, along with the opportunity to interview Diocesan clergy and administrators with information relevant to the investigation. Judge Riley has been assisted by a team of attorneys and paralegals who have extensive experience in this area, including retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, who served as counsel and lead investigator for a similar accountability investigation conducted for the Diocese of Bridgeport. Anyone who has information that can assist in this investigation can make a report by calling toll-free: 844-311-2111 (English); 800-216-1288 (Spanish), or by visiting: www.lighthouse-services.com/norwichdiocese. The hotlines and website are operated by a provider of secure hotlines for organizations conducting investigations. All communications with Judge Riley and his team will be confidential.
Results of the investigation will be presented in a public report that will address sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the Diocese of Norwich, along with the response of Church leadership to that abuse and any relevant recommendations resulting from the review. It is in a spirit of accountability and transparency that I invited and welcomed Judge Riley and the team from Pullman & Comley. I look forward to their report and I believe that their investigation will help to clarify the thorough work undertaken last year in compiling and publishing the list of clergy with substantive allegations involving sexual abuse of a minor.
As we continue our longstanding commitment to protecting our children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm, we place our faith in the Lord Jesus who strengthens us with the help of His grace, that by these efforts, we might bring much-needed light to this dark chapter in the life of the Church. It likewise continues to be my fervent prayer that this process will bring some further measure of healing and peace both to victims and their families, as well as to all the faithful of our Diocese.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop of Norwich
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