Fr. Laurence Brett – Archdiocese of Baltimore

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Abuser Profiles, Catholic Church

Father Laurence Brett

Archdiocese of Baltimore/Sacramento/Bridgeport

Laurence Brett Horowitz Law

Ordained: 1962

Removed: 1994

Laicized: 2006

Dead: 2010

Assignment History:

  • 1962-1964: St. Cecilia (Springdale, CT)
  • 1964-1964: Sacred Heart University and Most Precious Blood Church (Fairfield, CT)
  • 1964-1965: Leave of Absence
  • 1965-1965: Assigned to the Sacramento Diocese (Sacramento, CA)
  • 1965: Saint Charles (Santa Fe, NM)
  • 1965-1967 Saint Therese Parish (Albuquerque, NM)
  • 1965-1967: Leave of Absence
  • 1967-1973: St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Pasadena, MD)
  • 1967-1973: St. Patrick’s (Cumberland, MD)
  • 1972-1974: Calvert Hall College High School (Baltimore, MD)
  • 1976-1976: School Sisters of Notre Dame Mother House (Baltimore, MD)
  • 1974-1993: Contract Writer, Share the Word (Paulist liturgical publication) (Washington, DC)
  • 1984-1991: Host of a Weekly Television Program
  • 1992: Malvern Retreat House (Philadelphia, PA)
  • 1993: Leave of Absence

Summary of Sexual Abuse Allegations Against Father Laurence Brett:

Father Laurence Brett was a Catholic priest who worked in multiple parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the Diocese of Sacramento, and the Diocese of Bridgeport. Fr. Brett is listed on the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Credibly Accused of Sexual Abuse of Minors list, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s list, and the Diocese of Sacramento’s list. In April 2023, Maryland’s Attorney General released a report alleging 156 Catholic clergy members sexually abused at least 600 children over six decades. The report lists the names of the abusers, including Father Brett. According to the report, there have been at least 23 victims of sexual abuse by Brett, ranging in age from 10 to 18 over his tenure.

1964In 1964, a teenage boy at Sacred Heart University in Bridgeport, Connecticut, reported that Fr. Brett orally raped him and bit his penis to prevent him from ejaculating, causing extreme pain and lasting injury. The Diocese of Bridgeport confronted Brett immediately, and Brett admitted it was true. Brett said he had a “problem” and had abused another student at the University as well. Brett was sent to “treatment” in New Mexico and supported financially by the Bridgeport Diocese. 

1965: In 1965, a 14-year-old boy in Sacramento reported that he was sexually abused by Brett, and the Diocese of Sacramento reported it to the Diocese of Bridgeport. Father Brett was relieved of his assignment as Chaplain at Sacred Heart University here because of an incident of improper conduct. 

1966: In 1966, a teenage boy reported that Brett made a sexual pass at him when Brett was a curate in Connecticut. Brett was a mentor and spiritual advisor to a group of boys known as “Brett’s Mavericks.”

1973In the early fall of 1973, four boys reported to their teacher, Charles LoPresto, that Brett sexually abused them at Calvert Hall. The Principal of Calvert Hall, Brother Stephen Pleva, was notified. The first boy said that Brett showed him pornography and orally raped him in the spring of 1973. The second boy said Brett abused him in the fall of 1973. The third victim gave few details. The fourth victim came late to class one day, flushed and crying. He said he had been with Brett. (In 2008, one of the initial victims entered into a settlement with the Archdiocese for $80,000.) 

1992: In November 1992, a man reported that he was sexually abused by Brett in New Mexico in 1966 when he was between 10 and 12 years old. Brett attempted to orally and anally rape the boy in his rectory bedroom. Brett told the boy no one would believe him. When they learned of the report, the Diocese of Bridgeport hired a private investigator to investigate the victim’s background to see if he had a criminal record. Brett was confronted and denied that he abused the victim but admitted that he sexually abused a 16 or 17-year-old boy in Albuquerque at the Saint Therese of the Infant Jesus Parish rectory. He also admitted to two sexual “relationships” at Calvert Hall with high school students. He said it was reported to Bishop Murphy. He said the Archdiocese did not ask him to leave, but his high school work ended. 

In 1992, another man reported that Brett sexually abused him in 1961 and 1962 at St. Cecilia’s school and other locations, including St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, when he was between 13 and 15 years old. He was one of “Brett’s Mavericks.” Brett raped the boy orally twice and told the boy that fellatio was a form of Holy Communion. In 1993, he filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Bridgeport and was ultimately awarded $750,000. 

1993: Beginning with a lawsuit in 1993 that claims Fr. Laurence Brett abused a teenage altar boy from 1961-1963, the Diocese of Bridgeport received multiple complaints thereafter. He was also accused of abusing a 19-year-old student at Sacred Heart University.  Another report named him as one of 71 priests in the Bridgeport Diocese accused of sexually abusing minors since the Diocese’s founding in 1962. The Bridgeport review board found the allegations to be credible.

1993: The Diocese of Bridgeport suspended Brett’s faculties and notified the Archdiocese of Baltimore. 

Brett fled to the island of Martinique in the Caribbean in 1993. He was living under an alias and died on Dec. 25, 2010, at the age of 73, after years on the run from law enforcement.

1994: In 1994, a man reported being sexually abused by Brett at Calvert Hall High School in 1969 and 1970. When he was 12 years old, the victim was taught religion by Xavier Langan (a child abuser described in this Report), and during class, received a note from Brett to come to the Brother’s House. 

1997In October 1997, a man reported that he was sexually abused, including oral rape, by Brett in the 1960s at his house in Baltimore and a downtown rectory when he was 16 years old. He was not a Calvert Hall student. The Archdiocese made the mandatory report of abuse to authorities. 

1998: In January 1998, a man reported that he was sexually abused by Brett when he was a sophomore at Calvert Hall in 1973. Brett called him into his office and said he might be gay. The boy said he was not. Brett said he could help him find out. Brett told him to sit down, pulled the curtains, and described in graphic detail heterosexual sex. He made the boy pull his pants down to show if he was aroused, then orally raped him. The boy avoided being alone with Brett again after the assault. The Archdiocese made the mandatory report of the abuse to authorities. The victim received a settlement from the Diocese of Bridgeport. 

There were multiple reports made in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2011 alleging Brett sexually abused them when they were minors. 

According to the Hartford Courant, Church leaders in Bridgeport, Connecticut, knew about allegations against Brett in the 1960s. In fact, Church officials wrote in a memo that if any parishioners asked about Brett’s sudden absence, “hepatitis” would be fabricated as a cover. Brett was finally ordered to leave the Diocese of Bridgeport after being confronted about the incident with the Sacred Heart University student. He was then transferred to the Dioceses of Sacramento, Santa Fe, and Baltimore but was permitted to continue as a priest under the auspices of the Bridgeport Diocese, first under Bishop Walter Curtis and later under Bishop Edward Egan. After numerous leaves of absence, Brett then went on to teach at Calvert Hall College in Maryland from 1969 to 1973, where more than a dozen students eventually accused him of sexual abuse.

Brett became a chaplain of the School Sisters of Notre Dame Motherhouse in Baltimore County starting in 1976. He then worked as a religious publisher in Washington, DC, according to the Baltimore Archdiocese. Lori, then the Bishop of Bridgeport, finally removed Brett from the priesthood in the early 2000s.

The case of this notorious Baltimore-area Catholic priest is cited in a recent report as a critical example of how church officials shuffled clergy accused of sexual abuse, leaving more children at risk. An insurance company paid a $250,000 settlement in 1994 to the two victims Brett molested after he transferred to Sacramento, CA. Accused of sexually abusing boys in New Mexico, Maryland, New Jersey, and Washington DC, Catholic leaders have paid more than $2.7 million in settlements to people who accused Brett of abuse — representing 5% of all its abuse payouts, according to a recent report.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other clergy in the Archdiocese of Baltimore in Maryland. If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a priest in Maryland, contact our office today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help. Contact us at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today.