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Norwich diocese posts list of priests accused of sexually assaulting children

The Day - 2/11/2019

Feb. 10--NORWICH -- The Diocese of Norwich Sunday afternoon released the names of 43 priests who have served in the diocese since its founding in 1953 and have had "allegations of substance" made against them regarding sexual abuse of minors.

The list does not include what parishes the priests served at, what they were accused of doing and if the diocese reported them to police or the state department of Children and Families, which clergy have been required to do under the state's Mandatory Reporter law since 1971.

Sunday's list also does not say which priests were involved in the almost $7.7 million worth of settlements paid out to victims. It also does not include priests accused of sexually assaulting adults.

The list includes the priest's name, date of ordination, if they were removed from ministry, and if they are a member of the diocese, members of other diocese or religious orders, or priests who served in the diocese but had allegations in other locations.

The list includes a large number of priests who have not been publicly identified in the past as having been accused of sexually abusing children.

Prior to the release of the list, The Day had identified 28 priests and brothers affiliated with the Diocese of Norwich who have been accused of sexually assaulting children and adults, according to lawsuits, depositions, sworn statements and statements from alleged victims. Seven of these priests were not on the list released by the diocese Sunday.

Diocese spokesman Wayne Gignac said Sunday the diocese would not be commenting on individual allegations or settlements and did not say which allegations were reported to DCF or police. In addition, he said interviews with Bishop of Norwich Michael Cote are not being granted at this time.

"The scope of the task was to provide a list of names of clergy with allegations of substance of sexual abuse of minors. It is our hope that the release of the names will bring some measure of healing, and acknowledgement to those who have been directly harmed," he wrote in an e-mail.

In a letter distributed at churches in the diocese this weekend, Cote defined an "allegation of substance" as one in which the priest has pleaded guilty or no contest in criminal court of any incident of sexual misconduct; the allegation has been investigated and "been determined to be reasonable, plausible, probable and bearing the semblance of the truth," is corroborated with other evidence or another source and/or has been acknowledged or admitted to by the accused priest.

John Timothy McGuire of New London, who has said he was molested when he was an 8-year-old altar boy at St. Joseph's Church in Noank by a priest on the list, the late Rev. James Curry, was critical Sunday of the diocese determining which allegations were credible.

"Why do they get to determine if something is credible. They should be going to police or DCF," he said

Cote's explanation came in a letter that was included in church bulletins distributed at Saturday afternoon Masses.

Cote also said in the letter that since July 1, 1977, the diocese has paid out almost $7.7 million in settlements to victims in connection with nine cases. There are 23 more cases pending against the diocese. Other victims have been unable to file suits because the statute of limitations has expired.

But New London attorney Kelly Reardon, who along with her father Robert, have represented numerous victims of priest abuse, said Sunday that her firm alone has represented nine victims who received $8.1 million in settlements from the diocese. She added that she knows other attorneys have had cases against the diocese. Gignac said he would try to get an answer the discrepancy on Monday.

Reardon called the release of the list "a step in the right direction" but said the diocese needs to ensure the numbers its is releasing are correct.

She said the diocese should conduct an independent investigation of the issue much like the Archdiocese of Hartford and the diocese of Bridgeport are doing.

"I think it's necessary given the questions raised by the list regarding the true extent of the problem," she said.

Cote said in his letter that almost $4.9 million of the settlements were paid by its insurance company, $1 million came from the diocesan general fund and almost $1.8 million in payments were made by entities such as religious orders or other dioceses the priests belonged to, as well as from the accused priests themselves.

He added no donor-restricted funds, bequests or contributions designated for a special purpose, such as the Annual Catholic Appeal, were used to pay settlements.

McGuire said Sunday he was glad the list was out but criticized it for lacking important information.

McGuire, who has called on the diocese to establish a victims' compensation fund for he and others prohibited by the statute of limitations from filing lawsuits against the diocese, said there is no information about where the priests served, when they were there, the number of complaints lodged against them, what they are accused of doing and if the allegations were ever reported to police and the state Department of Children and Families.


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