Norwich - Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D, Bishop of Norwich, announced today that retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Michael E. Riley, a member of the Internal Investigations and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practice at Pullman & Comley, is leading a Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Investigation for the Diocese of Norwich.
Judge Riley and his team have 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 and information presented to it concerning the alleged clergy abuse. As part of his investigation, Judge Riley has been given complete and unrestricted access to all Diocesan files, records, and archives dating from the establishment of the Diocese in 1953 to the present along with the opportunity to interview Diocesan clergy and administrators with information relevant to the investigation.
Work on the Accountability Investigation began in October of 2019, following initial discussions with Pullman & Comley held in April of that year. Judge Riley has been assisted by a team of attorneys and paralegals from their firm who have extensive experience in this area, including Retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, who served as counsel and lead investigator for the Clerical Sexual Abuse Accountability Investigation conducted for the Diocese of Bridgeport.
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. The report will also contain any relevant recommendations to the Bishop resulting from the review.
“It is in a spirit of accountability and transparency that I have invited Judge Riley and the team from Pullman & Comley to conduct this investigation,” Bishop Cote said. “I look forward to their report and I believe that their investigation will help to clarify the thorough work done last year in compiling and publishing the list of clergy with substantive allegations involving sexual abuse of a minor.”
Judge Riley stated: “I am honored to have undertaken this important initiative for the diocese. Our investigation will be thorough, honest and transparent.”
Bishop Cote announced plans for the Accountability Investigation in a letter that was read in parishes throughout the diocese.
“We will continue our longstanding commitment to ensure a safe environment in our churches, schools, and other institutions in protecting our children, young people, and vulnerable adults from harm,” Bishop Cote said.
Anyone who has information that can assist Judge Riley 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 Lighthouse, a provider of secure, confidential third-party hotlines for organizations conducting investigations. All communications with Judge Riley and his team will be confidential.
About Judge Riley (Ret.)
Retired Judge Michael E. Riley has extensive experience serving as a mediator and arbitrator in civil matters in state and federal court, including personal injury, employment, construction, insurance, and commercial disputes. He retired from the bench in May 2017 after 13 years of service as a Superior Court judge. As a member of the bench, he served as the Administrative Judge and as Presiding Judge for civil matters in the Judicial District of Windham and most recently as the mediation judge in the Hartford Judicial District Mediation Center.
Retired Judge Riley has been board certified in Civil Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1990. Judge Riley is a former trial attorney with 28 years of experience representing both plaintiffs and defendants in a wide range of civil matters, including personal injury, professional malpractice, and insurance coverage disputes. Prior to being appointed to the Superior Court, he was a partner at a Hartford law firm practicing primarily in civil litigation and appellate work.
Pullman & Comley is one of Connecticut’s largest firms, providing a wide range of legal services to clients in the New England region, as well as throughout the United States. The firm has offices in Bridgeport, Hartford, Stamford, Waterbury, and Westport, Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts and White Plains, New York. For more information, please visit www.pullcom.com.