Archdiocese seeks victims of alleged abuser Former chaplain named as focus of investigation ZTC

December 12, 1997|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

The Archdiocese of Baltimore is attempting to determine whether there are any additional victims of a priest who allegedly sexually abused several high school students while he was chaplain at Calvert Hall College in Towson in the early '70s.

A brief announcement published in yesterday's Catholic Review, the archdiocesan newspaper, said Catholic officials were "interested in speaking with anyone who may have been affected by any inappropriate activity" by the Rev. Laurence F. X. Brett, who lived in the Baltimore Archdiocese from 1967 until at least 1994.

In August, a federal jury ordered the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., to pay $750,000 to a 50-year-old man who said he was sexually abused by Brett when he was a teen-ager. The jury found that the diocese covered up the abuse and failed to investigate whether there were other victims.

Brett did not attend the trial. He was dropped from the lawsuit when he could not be located.

The archdiocese has confirmed that Brett served as a chaplain and religion teacher at Calvert Hall from about 1970 to 1973. In October 1973, Calvert Hall and archdiocesan officials learned that several students accused Brett of sexual misconduct, and he was immediately removed from his position at the school.

"It is not clear what type of communication or assistance was made with the victims and families of the alleged misconduct in 1973," the archdiocese said in a statement last summer.

In a deposition from the trial in Bridgeport, Monsignor Laurence R. Bronkiewicz, who is in charge of clergy personnel for the Connecticut diocese, said that Brett admitted to two sexual relationships at Calvert Hall. Brett told Bronkiewicz that one of the students tried to seduce him.

The man who sued the Diocese of Bridgeport said that Brett sexually abused him in 1962 and 1963 when he was a student at Stamford Catholic High School. In 1964, the diocese sent Brett for psychiatric treatment to a rehabilitation center in Jimenez, N.M.

Brett came to Baltimore in 1967 and assisted with weekend Masses and summer coverage until he was assigned to be chaplain to the Christian Brothers community at Calvert Hall in 1969. He began working at the school the next year. He also worked in a number of parishes from 1967 to 1973, including St. Jane Frances de Chantel in Pasadena, St. Patrick in Cumberland, and St. Pius X in Rodgers Forge. In 1976, he was chaplain at the School Sisters of Notre Dame Motherhouse.

In 1993, the archdiocese became aware of additional allegations involving sexual abuse by Brett that occurred outside Baltimore. The archdiocese and Calvert Hall conducted another investigation of his alleged abuse here and reported its findings to the state's attorney's office.

"Former students thought to be affected by Father Brett's misconduct were contacted and offered counseling assistance," the archdiocesan statement said. "These individuals were adults, and their families were not notified out of respect for the privacy of the individuals."

The archdiocese launched its search for more victims because another person came forward with allegations against Brett in the months since the Bridgeport case, said Raymond P. Kempisty, an archdiocesan spokesman.

The archdiocese began another investigation, and unsuccessfully tried to locate Brett. Officials also notified the state's attorney's office again.

Anyone with information should call Sheila Kelly, archdiocesan secretary of human resources, at 410-547-5556.

Pub Date: 12/12/97

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