Court seeks statement from Egan in abuse case
By Ivan H. Golden
December 21, 2004
A Connecticut court has asked New York authorities to enforce a subpoena against Cardinal Edward Egan of the Archdiocese of New York, ordering him to answer questions under oath in a sexual abuse case involving a former Stamford priest.
State Superior Court Judge Chase Rogers in Stamford issued the request last week in response to a motion from a Stamford lawyer whose client, identified in court papers as John Doe, says he was molested in the early 1990s by the Rev. John Castaldo while Castaldo was a priest at St. Teresa Church in Trumbull.
Rogers also asked New York authorities to enforce a subpoena against the Rev. Kevin Mackin of Loudonville, N.Y.
The motion from the plaintiff's lawyer says Egan and Mackin "are important witnesses whose testimony is critical evidence in this case."
Egan was head of the Diocese of Bridgeport in 1992, when Castaldo was transferred from St. Teresa to St. Mark's in Stratford. Mackin was president-rector of the Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, N.Y., in 1985, when Castaldo was dismissed from the seminary.
According to the motion, "Cardinal Egan had access to considerable information indicating John Castaldo was not fit for service as a priest in the Diocese" and that he, "had and ignored other information indicating Castaldo was not fit to serve as a priest."
It was not clear yesterday whether Egan would contest the subpoena. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said he was unaware of the lawsuit and the subpoena.
"Nobody here has heard about it yet, so we can't comment on it because we haven't seen anything," he said.
John Doe's lawyer, Paul Slager of the Stamford law firm Silver, Golub and Teitell, could not be reached for comment. In the motion, Slager said he repeatedly has asked the Archdiocese of New York to make Egan available for a deposition.
"The Diocese's counsel has repeatedly stated that he does not know whether the Diocese will do so," Slager wrote, adding, "(The plaintiff) cannot wait any longer for an answer . . . in light of the fast approaching trial date."
A trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 11 in state Superior Court in Stamford.
According to the lawsuit filed in October 2001, Castaldo molested John Doe -- who is now in his mid-20s and lives in the Bridgeport area -- beginning when Doe was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Teresa in Trumbull.
The lawsuit names Castaldo, who was a spiritual adviser to Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford and a priest at St. Maurice Parish in Stamford in the late 1990s, and the Diocese of Bridgeport as defendants.
Castaldo was removed from Trinity Catholic and St. Maurice in May 2001, immediately after he was arrested on charges of engaging in a sexually explicit online chat with someone he believed was a 14-year-old boy. In fact, the person was an undercover investigator with the Westchester County, N.Y., district attorney's office.
Castaldo pleaded guilty in September 2001 to a felony charge of attempted dissemination of indecent material to a minor and was sentenced to one weekend in jail and five years of probation. He was the first priest in the Bridgeport Diocese to be sent to jail or placed on probation.
In addition to the John Doe civil lawsuit, at least one other former altar boy has filed suit against Castaldo, saying Castaldo molested him on several occasions in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Castaldo was transferred from St. Teresa in the early 1990s, then served in parishes in Stratford, New Fairfield, Newtown and Stamford from 1992 to 1999. Lawyers for John Doe want to ask Egan why Castaldo was transferred so often during that span.
Landa Mauriello-Vernon, Connecticut director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said church leaders should cooperate with authorities investigating charges of abuse.
"SNAP would hope that . . . Cardinal Egan would participate fully so that the truth would come out," she said. "It's only with the truth that victims get to heal.
"Judges shouldn't have to force cardinals or bishops or anyone to give depositions," she added. "They should be readily available."