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Assignment Record– Rev. Edward Tissera aka W. Edward Julian Tissera aka Edward Warnakulasuriya aka Edward J. Tissera

Summary of Case: A native of Sri Lanka, Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was ordained in 1989. By 1997 he was working in the Archdiocese of New York, as an assistant in a Staten Island parish. There is a two-year gap in his Directory listings, and he reappears in 2002 in the Diocese of Hartford CT. He assisted there at parishes in West Hartford, Enfield, Watertown and New Britain. Notably there are gaps in his assignments 2003-2004 and again 2006-2007. In 2011 Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was made pastor of St. Bernard's in Tariffville, CT.

In July 2011 Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was placed on leave by the diocese after a male youth reported that the priest touched his pubic area during confessions in December 2010 and again in May and July 2011. The youth was 17 or 18 years-old during the incidents. Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was arrested in August 2011. In September 2012 he was found guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault and sentenced to three years' probation.

In a lawsuit settled in October 2016, Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was accused of repeated sexual assault of a 13 to 14 year-old boy in the Fall of 2000 through Spring 2001. The suit places the priest at St. John the Evangelist in Watertown, CT. The incidents were said to have occurred during what was supposed to be spiritual counseling in the boy's bedroom.

In 2016 Tissera/Warnakulasuriya's status with the diocese remains "Leave of Absence."


Ordained
: 1989


   

Start Stop Assignments Town/Accusations State Position Notes

1989

 

1997        

Tissera/Warnakulasuriya is not indexed in the 1990-1997 Directories.

1997

Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Edward Michael Egan (2000-2009).

2000 St. Clare's Staten Island NY 3/4 St. Clare's had a school with 688-703 students, and a religious education program with 1,895-2000 students.

before 2000

Diocese of Hartford

Bishop was Daniel Anthony Cronin (1991-2003).

2002 St. John the Evangelist

Watertown

In a 2014 lawsuit, Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was accused of sexually assaulting a boy, ages 13-14, during Fall /Winter 2000 and Spring 2001. The incidents allegedly occurred under the guise of spiritual counseling in the boy's bedroom, as requested and instructed by the priest.

CT associate pastor

Tissera/Warnakulasuriya is not indexed in the 2001 or 2002 Directories, nor is he listed in the diocesan pages as at his previous or next assignments.

This assignment is per John Doe V. Rev. Edward Tissera and Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation, September 12, 2014.

The suit was settled in October 2016.

2002

 

2003 St. Peter Claver's West Hartford CT 2/2 St. Peter Claver's had a religious education program with 562 students.

2003

Cronin was succeeded as Hartford bishop by Henry Joseph Mansell (2003-2013).

2004         Tissera/Warnakulasuriya is not indexed in the 2004 Directory, nor is he listed in the diocesan pages as at his previous or next assignments.
2004 2006 St. Martha's Enfield CT 2/2 St. Martha's had a school with 223-192 students, and a religious education program with 205-234 students.
2006 2007         Tissera/Warnakulasuriya is not indexed in the 2007 Directory, nor is he listed in the diocesan pages as at his previous or next assignments.
2007 2009 St. Joseph's New Britain CT 2/2 St. Joseph's had a religious education program with 105-86 students. It was linked with St. Maurice's in New Britain.
2007 2009 St. Maurice's New Britain CT 2/2 St. Maurice's had a religious education program with 164-129 students. It was linked with St. Joseph's in New Britain.
2009 2010 St. Joseph's Waterbury CT 2/2 St. Joseph's was linked with St. Patrick's in Waterbury.
2009 2010 St. Patrick's Waterbury CT 2/2 St. Patrick's was linked with St. Joseph's in Waterbury.
2010 2011 St. Bernard's

Tariffville

Tissera/
Warnakulasuriya was placed on leave in July 2011 after after an 18-year-old male reported that the priest touched his pubic area during confessions. Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was arrested and charged in August 2011 with sexual assault. The incidents were said to have occurred in the rectory in December 2010, May 2011 and July 2011. The youth said the first two times Tissera/Warnakulasuriya told him to unzip his pants and then, holding a cross, placed his hands on the youth's pubic hair. The third time the priest put his hand in the youth's boxer shorts and touched his genitals. The youth was 17 or 18-years-old when the incidents occurred.

CT 1/1

St. Bernard's had a religious education program with 121 students.

Tissera/Warnakulasuriya was found guilty in September 2012. He was given three years' probation.

 

2011

Leonard Paul Blair replaced Mansell as Hartford bishop (2013-).

2016 Leave of Absence        

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Sources: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1990-2015).

Simsbury Priest Accused of Improper Touching, By David Owens and Christine Dempsey, Hartford Courant, August 12, 2011
Simsbury Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Sexual Assault Charges, By Kim Velsey, Hartford Courant, September 22, 2011
Former Pastor of Simsbury Church Found Guilty of Misdemeanor Sexual Assault, By David Owens, Hartford Courant, September 26, 2012
John Doe v. Rev. Edward Tissera and Hartford Roman Catholic Diocese Corporation, September 12, 2014
Archdiocese Settles Sex Abuse Claim, By Daniel Tepfer, CT Post, October 13, 2016
Archdiocese of Hartford Settles Sexual Abuse Claim against Priest, By Ray Hardman, WNPR, October 15, 2016

 

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates Tissera/Warnakulasuriya's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on October 26, 2016.


 
 

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