Accused priest took job with church
By Angela Carella
Assistant City Editor
Article Launched: 04/23/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT
STAMFORD - A Catholic priest who resigned from the Diocese of Bridgeport six years ago amid allegations he abused a teenage boy was hired by another diocese, the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Stamford, where he could have had contact with seminarians from St. Basil College.
The eparchy was warned repeatedly by the Bridgeport Diocese about Albert McGoldrick, who was a priest at St. Paul Parish in Greenwich when he resigned in 2002, a Bridgeport diocese spokesman said.
McGoldrick was hired Sept. 1, 2006, as assistant to Bishop Paul Chomnycky of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy but never was employed by St. Basil College, said a statement the eparchy issued last night in response to media requests.
Fifteen months after McGoldrick was hired, in December, a private investigator "approached Mr. McGoldrick with certain vague accusations," then contacted the chancery a week later, the statement said. On Dec. 29, McGoldrick and Chomnycky agreed to terminate the employment contract immediately, it said.
As part of his severance package, McGoldrick was paid what was owed him under the contract and allowed to continue living in a house on Hope Street, which the eparchy owns, until Sept. 1, 2008, the statement said.
Vito Colucci of Stamford, who was hired to investigate McGoldrick, said his clients, who he would not name, were concerned that young seminarians were visiting the house at 18 Hope St.
"They are angry and upset that he was in a position to be working with
17-, 18-, 19-year-old boys from the Ukraine," Colucci said. "People need to understand these are not cool American streetwise kids. These are trusting kids who are in a new country, not knowing the language as well, and they go to St. Basil's and say, 'I want to be a priest, will you help me?' "
During an interview, he asked McGoldrick if he could understand why his clients were upset about his contact with young seminarians, Colucci said. McGoldrick said no.
"He said he doesn't see the boys," Colucci said. "I asked him where his office was and he said it's not near St. Basil's. But his office was at 14 Peveril Road, which is right behind St. Basil's."
That is the chancery's address. The college is at 195 Glenbrook Road at Hope Street. The property includes St. Vladimir Cathedral at 24 Wenzel Terrace. Until 1990, there was a high school, St. Basil's Preparatory. All are within about three blocks.
The Rev. Ihor Midzak, rector of St. Vladimir Cathedral, had no comment yesterday. McGoldrick could not be reached.
The Stamford eparchy is a diocese of the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia, which has authority over all Ukrainian Catholic dioceses in the United States.
According to St. Basil's Web site, Pope Benedict XVI announced in January 2006 that Chomnycky, then Apostolic Exarch of Great Britain, would replace the retiring Bishop Basil Losten as head of the Stamford eparchy, which oversees dioceses in New England and New York.
The eparchy is Roman Catholic and answers to the pope, but the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport has no jurisdiction over it.
Joseph McAleer, spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said Losten and Chomnycky were warned about McGoldrick "on multiple occasions over the years, verbally and in writing."
He did not know when the diocese first warned the eparchy.
"I can't say specifically when we became aware of it," McAleer said.
McAleer said he did not know whether McGoldrick had contact with seminarians.
The unsigned statement from the eparchy said that, during his employment, "Mr. McGoldrick has not been accused, nor has he been charged with any crime or act of misconduct in any fashion. If someone believes he has done something wrong or illegal, we welcome the opportunity to address that allegation. In the absence of such an accusation, we all agree that he should be presumed innocent of any wrongdoing and that he may be afforded the same rights as any other private citizen."
The eparchy fully complies with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, it said.
The man who accused McGoldrick was one of 40 victims of clergy sexual abuse who reached a $21 million settlement with the Diocese of Bridgeport in 2003, said Jason Tremont, an attorney for the Bridgeport law firm Tremont & Sheldon, which handled the case.
The abuse began when the man was 14, Tremont said.
"He lived in Fairfield, and the abuse occurred in town and on trips. The priest befriended his family," Tremont said. "It consisted of all types of abuse over a number of years."
McGoldrick resigned from the priesthood voluntarily, said Tremont, whose firm has represented more than 100 victims of clergy abuse in Connecticut, including at least 60 in the Diocese of Bridgeport.
"I was shocked to hear that this priest would be at a seminary where he is around young men. In my opinion, he should be as far away from boys and young men as possible," Tremont said. "Apparently the Diocese of Bridgeport told them, but even if that were not the case, any background check would have discovered this."
In most cases of clergy abuse, "the criminal statute of limitations has passed, so there is no criminal charge," Tremont said.
The former priests "are not on a sex offender list," he said. "They could be living out in society anywhere."
In a visit to the United States last week, Pope Benedict spoke several times about the child sex abuse scandal, which has cost dioceses a total of $2 billion, bankrupting six, and shook the faith of many Catholics. He was the first pope to meet with sex abuse victims. http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/localnews/ci_9022564