Demonstrators demand removal of Darien priest
DARIEN -- Handing out fliers and wearing placards, a former Catholic priest and an abuse victim stood at the entrance of St. Thomas More church Saturday, demanding the Diocese of Bridgeport remove an elderly priest for allegedly abusing three high school students some 30 years ago.
The demonstration was directed at the Rev. Robert Post, who is assigned St. Thomas More as the parochial vicar and serves as the chaplain of the Stamford Fire and Rescue Department. Demanding his removal were Robert M. Hoatson, who served with the Rev. Post in the Irish Christian Brothers, but now heads Road to Recovery, which assists victims of clergy abuse. Handing out leaflets with Hoatson was Kevin Waldrip, who said he was abused on his 13th birthday by the late Rev. Richard Galdon, who was convicted and sentenced to prison for abusing children in New Jersey. Waldrip's abuse is not linked to Rev. Post.
The three complaints against the Rev. Post are part of a federal bankruptcy suit pending in White Plains, N.Y., against the Irish Christian Brothers. That suit contains some 462 allegations of abuse allegedly committed by numerous members of the Irish Christian Brothers across North America.
J. Michael Reck, a New York lawyer, said Saturday he is representing the three men, who claim they were abused by the Rev. Post while attending high schools operated by the Irish Christian Brothers. Reck said at least one of his clients was abused while attending Blessed Sacrament High School in New Rochelle, N.Y. The Rev. Post served as the school's principal.
Meanwhile, Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Diocese of Bridgeport, said this is the first they've heard of the complaints against the Rev. Post.
"We've never had an allegation of abuse against Father Post," Wallace said Saturday. "We never received anything about these three complaints ... But rest assured, the Diocese will fully investigate this. We take such allegations seriously and have a zero-tolerance policy."
Wallace said the Rev. Post "has had a very good record and done very good work" since coming to the Diocese.
The Rev. Post could not be reached for comment.
Wallace said the priest spends time studying in Rome every summer and his being there Saturday is "totally unrelated to this demonstration."
He expects the Rev. Post to return to Connecticut next month.
While most Catholics arriving for Mass at St. Thomas More stopped to take the flyers from Hoatson and Waldrip as they stood on a grassy area just before the church's entrance, some including a woman and a man, chastised the pair for their tactic. Darien police assigned an officer to the scene and a representative of the parish stood guard to make sure neither the media or the two demonstrators moved beyond the designated area.
"I find this troubling," the woman said. "These are unproven allegations that could destroy the man's reputation. The proper way to handle this would have been to go to the police."
However, Paul Tavolacci, a Darien resident who registered his two young children to attend Happiness pre-school at St. Thomas More, spent a long time discussing the allegations with Hoatson.
"The first thing I am going to do is research this," Tavolacci said. "I'm going to look up the bankruptcy court proceedings."
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