Clerical sex abuse survivor calls on Bishop Rozanski to resign over report

  • Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/27/2020 1:16:59 PM

SPRINGFIELD — A clergy sex abuse survivor who leads a New Jersey organization that supports survivors and their families is calling on Mitchell T. Rozanski to resign as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield after a report this week described the response to abuse allegations against a late bishop as “woefully deficient.”

Robert M. Hoatson, who co-founded Road to Recovery Inc. in Livingston, New Jersey, held a press conference Friday morning in Springfield that also asked Pope Francis to rescind the appointment of Rozanski as archbishop for St. Louis.

Hoatson argues that Rozanski spent six years mismanaging the case reported by an anonymous Chicopee man who alleged being abused by the late Bishop Christopher Weldon. The allegations were first reported to the Diocese of Springfield in 2014 but were only confirmed in a report completed by retired Judge Peter A. Velis this week.

The Velis report determined that the allegation against Weldon was “unequivocally credible,” yet the diocesan investigation, led by an appointed Diocesan Review Board, failed to investigate fairly and accurately claims of clergy sexual abuse.

Rozanski apologized to the victim and what he called chronic mishandling of the case. “In almost every instance we have failed this courageous man,” Rozanski said.

Olan Horne of Chester, another clergy abuse survivor, said in an interview earlier this week that Rozanski’s reappointment to St. Lous is similar to how priests are moved around after being accused of abuse.

Meanwhile, Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented clergy abuse victims in the Springfield Diocese for decades, issued a statement this week calling the investigation into the complaint against Weldon a “cover-up.”

“The findings of retired Judge Peter Velis provide further evidence of the Diocese of Springfield’s continued shameful cover-up of the wholesale sexual abuse of children at all levels no matter what the human cost,” Garabedian wrote.

Like Hoatson, Garabedian leveled criticism at the appointed review board as well.

“Time and again it has been shown that Diocesan Review Boards across the country are only kangaroo courts meant to hide the truth,” Garabedian wrote.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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