Conn. Diocese settles priest abuse claim with Maine prison inmate

Posted March 29, 2011, at 2:53 p.m.
Last modified March 29, 2011, at 5:12 p.m.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A group that advocates for clergy abuse victims says the Roman Catholic Hartford Diocese has settled an abuse claim with a man serving a 60-year prison term in Maine for the killing of his grandfather.  

The Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests disclosed the previously unannounced settlement with Jeffrey Libby on Monday during a news conference outside archdiocese headquarters. Libby alleged he was molested by a priest as teenager while living in Bristol, Conn., in the early 1980s.  

SNAP also urged the church to disclose what happened to the priest who allegedly abused Libby.  

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese tells The Hartford Courant that the priest in question was barred from functioning as a priest in 2005, but did not say why. She says the archdiocese is doing everything possible to protect children.

On July 8, 1986, Libby drowned his 64-year-old grandfather in the bathtub at his Winslow, Maine, home, according to the Bangor Daily News. His motive was greed, Libby has said, and a reaction to having been physically and verbally abused by his alcoholic paternal grandfather, Percy Libby.

Libby was sentenced to 60 years in prison after a 1987 jury trial in Kennebec County Superior Court.

He has applied for and has been denied a commutation or reduction of his sentence three times. The most recent petition was heard in September 2001, when guards, clergy and lawyers wrote letters to the clemency board or governor stating that Libby seemed to be a changed man.

Libby also has sued Maine prison officials in federal court at least 10 times since 1992, according to court records, and in 2004 claimed that the warden’s decision not to let him meet with Bishop Joseph J. Gerry, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, in April 2001 violated his First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

The Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.

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