Conn. man says he was molested by priest

By John Christoffersen
Associated Press / March 4, 2010

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NEW HAVEN - A Connecticut man sued retired New York Cardinal Edward Egan and other Catholic Church officials yesterday, saying he was molested by a priest who was doing ministerial work even after being expelled from the seminary and receiving disturbing psychological assessments.

Brooks Thopsey, 30, of Stratford said the former priest, John Castaldo, sexually abused him at St. Theresa’s Church in Trumbull when he sought religious guidance as a preteen between 1989 and 1992. Thopsey said yesterday that he has considered suicide, been hospitalized three times for alcohol and drug abuse, and is still in therapy.

“It’s taken an extreme toll,’’ Thopsey said. “I’ve had extreme anxiety to the point where I didn’t want to leave my home. I didn’t want to hang out with friends. I had trouble in school.’’

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court in New Haven, names Castaldo, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, and Egan, who was the bishop of Bridgeport before he became cardinal.

Castaldo was a spiritual adviser to Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford and a priest at St. Maurice Parish in Stamford in the late 1990s. He was removed from both posts in May 2001 after he was arrested on charges of engaging in a sexually explicit online chat with someone he believed was a 14-year-old boy.

He pleaded guilty in 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.

Castaldo’s attorney, Robert Golger, declined comment yesterday, saying he had not seen the complaint.

Similar allegations came up in another sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Castaldo and church officials. Egan was subpoenaed to testify in that case, but did not after the case was settled.

According to Thopsey’s lawsuit, the diocese knew or should have known before Castaldo was assigned to St. Theresa’s Church that Castaldo had psychological assessments that suggested he had serious emotional problems. The suit said the Bridgeport Diocese knew or should have known before 1987 that Castaldo had been expelled from a seminary for “remarkably bizarre behavior’’ and that the president-rector of the seminary had warned diocesan officials about Castaldo.

Telephone messages left for Egan’s spokesman and the Bridgeport Diocese were not immediately returned. Egan’s spokesman has denied that the former bishop ignored warning signs. “There was no indication whatsoever that this priest was engaging in any kind of inappropriate behavior,’’ Joseph Zwilling, spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, said in 2005.