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Details of Abuse Allegation Against Darien Priest Elusive

Roman Catholic officials say they have never received specific allegations about the behavior of the Rev. Robert Post, a priest at the St. Thomas More Church in Darien, and the lawyer for three men accusing him won't make their accusations public.

The Rev. Robert Post has been accused publicly of having sexually abused three teenagers when he was a member of the Irish Christian Brothers in New York state, before he became a priest 30 years ago.

But specific, detailed allegations, the credibility of which might be judged, have not been made public. Nor has Post, a priest at , been arrested or prosecuted.

 Instead, Robert M. Hoatson, a former Catholic priest who now runs Road to Recovery, an organization that describes itself as offering "compassionate counseling and referral services to survivors of clergy sexual abuse," in front of St. Thomas More as parishioners entered and then left the church for Saturday afternoon Mass.

The two held a news conference afterward where they said they wanted the Bridgeport Diocese to remove Post from his position as it investigates the priest's past.

"[T]hree men have come forward to claim that they were abused by Br. Robert Post," the organization said in a news release. "Not one, not two, THREE."

Attorney's involvement

J. Michael Reck, a lawyer at the New York office of Jeff Anderson & Associates, a prominent law firm in clergy sexual abuse trials, has signed on as a lawyer representing three of the 422 clients in a massive case against the Irish Christian Brothers, which has filed for bankruptcy protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, NY.

If the judge in the case finds for Irish Christian Brothers, that may protect the order from some or all of the legal claims filed against it by people who say they were sexually abused by members of the organization.

Reck says he represents "three claimants who allege they have been sexually abused by, at the time, Br. Post. At least one of them was a student at Blessed Sacrament," a parish high school in New Rochelle, NY where Post was principal.

The parish school still exists, although now it is combined with a girls school.

Hoatson's involvement

Hoatson said that client had gotten in touch with him, since the two had known each other when Hoatson was teaching at the school. The complainant had been a student there at the time, and Post had been principal.

"I do know that they were sexual abuse allegations," Hoatson said of that man's accusation, "but I don't know the specifics of them."

During his time at the high school, from 1976 to 1979, Hoatson had repeatedly complained to higher authorities at Irish Christian Brothers that Post appeared to be having inappropriate relationships with some of the students.

Hoatson said he had no direct evidence of Post having sexual relations with students at the time. Since then, the former student has discussed Post's conduct with him.

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After a few years of complaints, both Post and Hoatsman were transferred to other schools in 1979, Hoatsman said. Hoatsman was transferred to a tough school in Harlem—a decision he interpreted as punishment for having blown the whistle on Post. Hoatsman later became a priest in the Newark Archdiocese, and then left the priesthood.

"It is time for the Bridegport Diocese to remove Fr. Robert Post from ministry, conduct a thorough investigation of the three claims against him, and help his victims heal from the trauma of sexual abuse," Hoatson said in the news release.

"The Bridgeport Diocese must stop acting in defense of Fr. Post and reach out to his alleged victims," the news release continued. "Fr. Robert Post must be removed from ministry immediately in order to protect children."

Michael Reck

Reck says he has filed a description of his clients' complaints with the bankruptcy court, but that those legal papers are sealed, and the names of his clients are not public, either. It will be up to the judge in bankruptcy court to decide whether the claims should remain private or be public, Reck said.

Reck said he hasn't gone to the Bridgeport Diocese with his clients' accusations, all of which involve allegations of behavior by Post before he left Irish Catholic Brothers and was ordained a priest in the Bridgeport Diocese in 1982.

Although Reck's name and phone number appear at the bottom of Hoatson's news release, Reck said he was not part of Hoatson's protest. Hoatson confirmed that.

Reck has not presented the diocese with a complaint.

Reck said his clients are suing the Irish Christian Brothers, officially for monetary compensation, but he said that was also the only way to pursue the matter since the religious organization went to bankruptcy court to gain protection from civil lawsuits related to clergy sex abuse.

"It's really a chance to seek some accountability and some transparency about this man who never should have been exposed to children," he said. "Is there a financial component? Yes, but that's not really what it's all about. It's far more important to achieve accountability and transparency, which is what these brave men are doing."

Later in the same interview, Reck said, "I think that all survivors of child sexual abuse would like to show why this happened, how this happened, so other people would not have to go through it."

Reply from the Bridgeport Diocese

Brian Wallace, a spokesman for the Bridgeport Diocese, said that whenever the diocese receives a specific complaint, it passes on the information to the Connecticut Department for Families and Children and starts its own investigation.

When that happens, a priest or other employee accused of sexual abuse of children may be suspended under diocese policy, Wallace said.

But the diocese can't act without a specific allegation being brought to its attention, he said. "We're asking people, if they've been abused, come forward. They should identify themselves."

Post's conduct as a priest has been exemplary, Wallace said. "He has a very good record up here [in the Diocese of Bridgeport]. He's been up here 30 years, and there have been no sexual abuse allegations brought against him. [...] We have a priest up here who's really good—who's done a good job."

Wallace pointed out that all of the allegations involving Reck's clients would have taken place before Post went to the diocese and became a priest, so there are no diocese records to look at.

Hoatson pointed out that when a man applies to become a priest, a diocese will typically look into his background, but he added that he didn't expect the Irish Christian Brothers to say anything negative about Post.

Hoatson has no evidence of any specific allegations of sexual abuse made against Post after he joined the Bridgeport Diocese.

Wallace said Hoatson had made public his accusation against Post several years ago, in 2007 or so when he filed a lawsuit involving his treatment by the Irish Christian Brothers, and Bridgeport Diocese officials had looked into it, but Hoatson didn't have evidence, Wallace said.

"It was a rather bizarre suit," he said. "There wasn't any ability to follow it up because it didn't make any sense." Hoatson lost his case. Hoatson says the judge's statements showed that he was very biased. Hoatson said he appealed his case, lost on appeal and then ran out of money for any further legal action.

Post in Darien and beyond

Post, 72, also known as "Father Bob," has been a priest at St. Thomas More parish since 1999, and before that from 1984 to 1987. He also has many other roles and activities as a priest outside the parish, including as chaplain to the Stamford Fire Department, according to his extensive biographical Web page on the Darien church's website.

One of those activities is to spend summers at an American Catholic Church in Rome. He's still over in Italy, Wilson said, although he has been contacted about Hoatson's protest and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court filing.

"He is aware that this is back in the news," Wallace said, "and there may be people coming forward."

Editor's note: Changes in wording have been made at 9:31 a.m. to clarify certain minor points.

Correction: Brian Wallace was incorrectly identified as Brian Wilson in early versions of this article.

Robert Hoatson August 28, 2012 at 01:42 PM
While we were demonstrating outside St. Thomas More Parish, a man who was described to us as a "parish employee" shadowed us, standing about 50-100 feet away from us up the driveway. He was telling some parishioners and bystanders that the charges against Fr. Post were investigated and dismissed. What charges was he referring to? Were other charges against Fr. Post lodged during his time as a priest in the Bridgeport Diocese? Have any parishioners asked that parish employee what he was referring to? Why hasn't the Bridgeport Diocese released any information about the alleged accusations? Parishioners: please push the diocese to come clean with what it knows about any other "past" allegations. At least three cars that stopped last Saturday to receive leaflets from us mentioned that they had heard of "charges" against Fr. Post but "they were dismissed." What charges? Bridgeport Diocese: come clean! Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D. Road to Recovery, Inc. Livingston, NJ 07039
Stephen DeVito August 28, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Dr. Hoatson, Not knowing who you are, what you actually do and if you are a legitimate therapist helping true victims, I will limit my comment to one statement, Please do not try this "case" in the media. Sadly you found an ear with this publication but you may ruin the reputation of a fine Priest if your accusations fall short. Leave it to the court!
Karen Boccadoro August 28, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Mr. Devito, I agree with you. I also want to know why Dr. Hoatson chose to 'demonstrate' while Fr. Post was still in Italy, and not available to defend himself.
Mark Crawford August 28, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Stephen, point well taken, but then why is it when such cases and allegations come forward, which are beyond the statute of limitations does the church and it's lobbyists, the Catholic Conference, oppose changes in any extension of those laws? It doesn't want such cases to get to court and that is exactly why they get tried in the media. Give sexual assault victims access to the courts and Stephen may get his wish. Not just in Connecticut, which did recently extend the SOL even though the church vigorously opposed these changes, but in every state in this country where JUSTICE IS DENIED, because the laws protect the rights of the powerful and politically connected, instead of protecting our children from sexual predators and the powerful institutions that harbor them.
Robert Hoatson August 28, 2012 at 11:00 PM
To Karen: We don't determine how a priest "defends" himself. I ask you: did those teenage boys (all 3 of them) have an opportunity to defend themselves from sexual abuse? To Stephen: I am not a therapist but an advocate. Did those teenage boys have a chance to consider their fine reputations and states of mind after they were allegedly sexually abused? Will the two of you come back and voice your support for the "boys" when you realize that they are telling the truth? After all, why would they make it up and expose themselves to ridicule and embarrassment?
Suzette Guastella August 29, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Mr Houtson, I have a question for you "why now 30 years later" why didnt these boys cme forward 30 20 or even 10 years ago ? And if you were aware of this for so long why haven't you come clean sooner? I am all for supporting any vi ten of abuse . But these allegations seem sketchy and you seem to be all about media attention. All I know is father bob has lead an amazing life giving his all to the community in many ways devoting his life, from a young age, to God . I do feel the courts should try this case quietly and fully before letting the media ruin the reputation of a wonderful man . I don't feel any charge of abuse should go uninvestigated , but isn't it the rite al all citizens to be innocent until PROVEN guilty without having rumors mill around before a trial?
Suzette Guastella August 30, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I hope everyone who reads this article will take the time to click on father Bobs biographical web link to learn about how amazing he is ... I hope and pray these allegations are not true but it doesn't change the fact that he devoted his life to the religious community in uncountable ways....
David Gurliacci (Editor) August 30, 2012 at 01:31 AM
This is the link to that Web page: http://www.stmdarienct.org/postgolden.htm
Allison Melich August 30, 2012 at 10:37 PM
Anyone who knows Father Bob at all knows that these allegations are FALSE. Shame on you, Mr. Houtson!
Fred DeCaro III October 12, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I am so angry that Fr. Bob's reputation is being sullied by this. While there is no denying that there has been priestly abuse by a small percentage of priests in the past, waiting more than 30 years to make a claim (a financial claim, by the way, which is part of a class action lawsuit) is in itself an abuse. A claim made about someone BEFORE they took up the mantle of the priesthood. Now we are in a terrible quandary. To defend Father Bob, do we tear down his accusers, including this defrocked priest Robert Hoatson? I'm saddened to be put in this position. And I'm angry to be put in this position. "Innocent until proven guilty" has been thrown out the window when you accuse someone in this fashion. Most importantly, even if there is 1 percent chance this is true (and I hate to even give it 1% credibility), doesn't 30 years of leading a holy life, of counseling hundreds of students, of getting up every morning to say Mass at 5:30 AM, indicate that perhaps this man doesn't need rehabilitation. What good can come of this? What do the alleged victims require as recompense? Besides a check in their pocket as part of a class action, what do they want from Fr. Bob? Perhaps they would be satisfied if he devoted his life to community service, worked long hours for pennies, and maintained celibacy for decades. Oh wait! He already does that!
sebastian dangerfield October 12, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Alex Gibney, an oscar winning , and highly acclaimed film maker, spent years researching and filming the catholic priest issue. For those above who are outraged at what may or may not be false allegations, you may do yourself a favor and view this great piece of work. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012)
Irv Weinstein October 13, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Alex also did a film exposing the crooked republicans and the dirty man Jack Abramoff.
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