STAMFORD - The former church secretary of St. John Church in Darien is suing the Bridgeport Diocese, claiming she was retaliated against for blowing the whistle on a church scandal.

Beth D?Erario hired a private investigator to delve into Father Michael Jude Fay?s life and to uncover his misuse of church funds. Fay was convicted of embezzling $1 million from his parish and using it for his lavish lifestyle. He was sentenced in December to 37 months in prison, but he won?t report for his sentencing until May due to health reasons.

D?Erario resigned from St. John three months after the scandal was made public. She claims she was harassed for exposing the scandal.

?They harassed her constantly every day. They accused her of having affairs with people in her company. They harassed her about going public,? D?Erario?s attorney, Mark Sherman, says. ?They harassed her about going against the church. She was just trying to expose a scandal she?d been reporting to her bosses for years.?

The Bridgeport Diocese posted a statement on its Web site that says D?Erario?s complaint is without merit. The diocese plans to defend itself against the allegations.

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