Catholic World News

Lawsuit, deposition allege diocese played hardball with whistleblower priest, accountant

August 05, 2009

A lawsuit filed by Bethany D’Erario, a former parish accountant, alleges that the Diocese of Bridgeport created a hostile work environment after she and an assistant priest, Father Michael Madden, hired a private investigator to examine the suspicious financial dealings of the parish’s pastor, Father Michael Jude Fay. After the private investigator turned over information to police, Father Fay was arrested and eventually sentenced to prison for embezzling $1 million.

Ms. D’Erario also alleges that Father Fay had a homosexual affair with a finance council member.

In a deposition given in connection with the lawsuit, Madden-- who sought to leave the priesthood in 2006-- alleges that Bishop William Lori threatened to send him to a nuns’ convent in retaliation after he found out he hired a private investigator. The diocesan attorney responded that “at no time did Bishop Lori ever threaten to send Mr. Madden to live with nuns.”

In an extremely aggressive public response to the lawsuit, the Bridgeport diocese told Catholic News Agency that all the charges brought by Madden and D’Erario are untrue, and that their lawsuit is an effort to “use inflammatory rhetoric as a substitute for evidence.” The diocese further charged that in filing suit D'Erario's motives were "financial rather than any real claim of wrongdoing or injustice.” The diocese suggested that D'Erario hired a private investigator to probe Father Fay's financial affairs only to protect herself from accusations of wrongdoing, and noted that it was the diocese that finally brought the financial misconduct to the attention of local prosecutors.

 


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