How Did the Catholic Church Endanger Children by Not Investigating or Removing Clergy Accused of Assault?
With the release in April 2023 of the Maryland Attorney General’s Report on Child Sexual Abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the horrifying extent of the abuse of power by numerous priests has been exposed to the public. Even more shockingly, the report details the great lengths the Catholic Church went to in order to prevent the investigation or prosecution of known abusive priests. Many times, an accused priest would simply be reassigned to a new position in a different state or area where their history was unknown to parishioners and students.
Often, the church made no real effort to prevent the interaction of known abusers with children and other vulnerable individuals, which led to a growing number of victims across the country. Even now, it is impossible to estimate the true extent of their abusive actions because many victims struggle to come forward. In the case of Father Laurence Brett, there is evidence in the Attorney General’s report that the Catholic Church went so far as to expel students who brought sexual abuse claims against him and even hired private investigators to look into accusers’ criminal histories for evidence that could discredit them.
If you have been living with the pain and trauma of an assault perpetrated by Father Laurence Brett or another Catholic priest, nun, brother, teacher, or member of the laity, we encourage you to come forward to seek the justice and healing that you’ve been denied for so long. We have years of experience fighting for the rights of individuals harmed by sexual abuse in religious institutions. Our compassionate lawyers are available 24/7 to provide free, confidential case evaluations to victims and their families.
Who Was Father Laurence Brett?
Father Laurence Brett was a teacher and Chaplain in residence at Calvert Hall College, a Baltimore-area high school, from 1969-1973. However, he worked at many other institutions across the US. The Catholic church was aware of child sexual abuse accusations against Brett as early as 1964, and he admitted to having a “problem.” Rather than removing him from the clergy, the church sent him to a since-discredited “treatment facility” in New Mexico, then placed him back into positions where he had direct contact with children for decades, despite ongoing reports of sexual abuse.
Over the years, dozens of victims have come forward to accuse Brett of abuse, and the Bridgeport, Connecticut diocese, and the Baltimore archdiocese have already paid millions in settlements. Brett was listed as “credibly accused” by the Archdiocese in 2002 and was laicized in 2006. However, it appears that the church continued to protect him from criminal prosecution by claiming to be unaware of his location in later years, despite evidence of individuals within the church maintaining contact with him. Brett died in 2010 at the age of 73 on the island of Martinique.
Where Could Father Laurence Brett Have Had Contact With Victims?
The Maryland Attorney General’s report records several places where Brett was assigned across the country, including Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania. Specific places where he worked include:
● St. Gregory the Great, Baltimore, MD (summer employment 1958 & 1959)
● St. Cecilia’s Church and School, Springfield, CT (1962-64)
● Most Precious Blood Church, Trumbull, CT (1964)
● Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, CT (1964)
● Saint Charles Parish, Santa Fe, NM (1965)
● Saint Therese Parish, Albuquerque, NM (1965-67)
● St. Jane de Chantel, Pasadena, MD (1967)
● St. Pius X, Baltimore, MD (weekend work 1967-73)
● St. Patrick, Cumberland, MD (summer work 1969)
● Calvert Hall College, High School, Baltimore, MD (1969-73)
● Contract Writer at Share the Word, Washington, DC (1974-93)
● Chaplain, School Sisters of Notre Dame Motherhouse (1976)
● Malvern Retreat House, Philadelphia, PA (1992)
Please be aware that this list may not constitute a full accounting of his assignments, and victims from other locations are encouraged to come forward.
Is There a Statute of Limitations on Clergy Abuse Claims?
The trauma of childhood sexual abuse perpetrated by a trusted individual in a position of power, such as a priest, can have life-long impacts. Many victims were threatened, told they wouldn’t be believed, or made to feel that the incident was somehow their fault. It can take several years or decades before victims are able to speak out and tell their stories.
Several states have recognized the challenges faced by those abused by religious institutions as children, and they have subsequently increased their statute of limitations for sexual abuse cases involving minors. Many states have also provided a temporary filing window for victims who could not file in the past.
For example, Maryland is poised to pass a law in 2023 that would eliminate the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits for child sexual abuse. Each state’s laws regarding this subject are different, but our knowledgeable lawyers can explain the statutes in your state and your legal avenues for seeking justice. Be mindful that timely action can be critical in many cases because the extensions of the filing windows may only be temporary.
How Can Our Law Firm Help if You or a Loved One Were Abused by Father Laurence Brett or Another Priest?
Officials in the Catholic church didn’t just fail the children in their care. They were often complicit in endangering them by protecting accused sexual offenders and willfully ignoring disturbing reports of abuse to avoid scandal and damage to their reputation. The case of Father Laurence Brett is a prime example of the heartbreaking damage these actions can inflict. If you or a loved one were assaulted as a child by Brett or another individual within the church, contact Andreozzi + Foote today for a free, confidential case evaluation to learn about your legal rights and options.