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Norwich diocese sued by 24 men who say they were sexually assaulted

November 29, 2018

Twenty-four men, who say they were sexually assaulted as teenage boys by the late Brother K. Paul McGlade and others, have filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly.

Some of the suits, in which the men allege they were fondled, sodomized and raped while attending the diocesan-run Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River from 1986 to 1996, are slated for trial in 2019. Each of the boys, who ranged in age from 11 to 15, had been placed at the now defunct school by the state Department of Children and Families or the state court system. DCF is not a defendant in the lawsuits.

The men are not named in the suits but have been allowed to file their cases under pseudonyms. One, John Doe, is being represented by the Reardon Law Firm of New London, while the remaining men are being represented by the Fazzano and Tomasiewicz firm of Hartford. Most of the suits were filed this week.

Mount Saint John was a century-old residential school run by the diocese to serve at-risk children with behavioral, emotional, family and educational problems. McGlade was the school’s executive director beginning in 1990, as well as a teacher there. The school was closed in 2013 due to declining referrals from DCF and the state court system, coupled with increasing costs.

“Part of the tragedy of these cases is that these boys who were sent to the academy were troubled to begin with and had family problems,” attorney Kelly Reardon said.

Attorney Patrick Tomasiewicz, who represents most of the alleged victims, said Wednesday that it was not appropriate for him to comment at this time “other than to say that I am very proud to represent these people.”

He added there is a possibility that five more young men could file suits.

DCF spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said, “We are unable to provide case specific information that is confidential under state law. In addition, and separate and aside from the confidentiality laws, the alleged incidents occurred so long ago that they precede the establishment of our current record data system.”

Diocesan spokesman Wayne Gignac said the diocese cannot comment on pending litigation. The Day requested a list of all of McGlade’s parish and school assignments and whether there had been any complaints filed against him, but Gignac said the diocese does not maintain personnel files for those who worked for Mount Saint John.

McGlade was not a diocesan priest but a member of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a worldwide Catholic organization whose members mainly have worked with youth. There have been numerous cases of Christian brothers being accused of sexually assaulting children and the organization has paid out many millions of dollars in settlements to alleged victims.

The suits are the latest filed against the diocese of Norwich by a long list of men and women who say they were sexually assaulted when they were children by diocesan priests. The diocese has paid out millions of dollars in settlements and Reilly transferred numerous priests accused of sexual assault to new parishes. Recently, two other men have come forward to say they, too, were sexually assaulted by diocesan priests but have been unable to file suits because the statute of limitations has expired.

The suits

Most of the suits accuse McGlade of masturbating and performing oral sex on the boys and then forcing them to do the same to him. The alleged incidents often occurred after the boys were summoned to McGlade’s office to discuss disciplinary issues or becoming altar boys. A few of the men say they reported the incidents to school staff at the time but nothing was done.

After the acts, the men say they often were told they were doing what God wanted and were threatened to not report what occurred.

Christopher Doe, then 14, said that after numerous incidents of oral sex and masturbation, McGlade told him that “betrayal of the Lord would result in him going to jail.” Cedric Doe, then 11, alleges he endured two years of sexual assaults and on one occasion was forced to engage in group sex with McGlade and another boy.

Dustin Doe, then 15, said that after McGlade and he masturbated and performed oral sex on each other, McGlade told him “It is a good and natural thing” and that “God wished Brother Paul to assist him in learning the correct way to perform these sexual acts.” Atila Doe, then 13, said McGlade took him on a plane trip out of state for sex.

Kunta Doe, then 14, alleges that McGlade warned him that if he reported McGlade for forcing him to perform oral sex, Kunta would be sent back to his father, who had sexually assaulted him before he came to St. John’s.

Nygil Doe, then 13, alleges that after being coerced into oral sex with McGlade, the brother told him “that this was good for God and he would be rewarded.”

In addition to McGlade, the late Brother Donald Paschal Alford, who led the school’s Boy Scout troop, is named in two of the suits.

Clarence Doe, then 13, said Alford made him kneel and pray and then walked over and forced him to perform oral sex. Clarence said Alford then told him “This is God’s house and whatever happens here stays here.”

Michael Doe, then 14, alleges the school’s previous director, a priest, and a school employee also sexually assaulted him on several occasions in 1986. In one incident, when Michael threw a book at the priest after being told to drop his pants, the priest told him he was “Satan’s child” and had to repent his sins. In another incident, he said the priest told him to take off his pants because he needed to conduct a genital exam to determine if he was developing properly.

Hector Doe suit

In his suit, Hector Doe alleges that in January 1992, when he was a 12-year-old student at the school, McGlade offered to give him private piano lessons after music class. While McGlade played “Joshua Fought the Battle with Jericho,” Hector said McGlade grasped Hector’s right thigh and then placed his hand on Hector’s groin, causing him to jump up. McGlade then patted him on the shoulder, told him to relax and resumed playing the song.

The suit states Hector then avoided McGlade for two weeks and, due to other issues, was denied a pass to go home. It was at that point that McGlade told Hector there was a possibility of overriding the decision to deny him the pass.

The suit alleges that McGlade then left the room and when he came back, he hugged Hector from behind, so the teenage boy could feel that McGlade had an erection. McGlade then sat Hector down on the piano bench and told him how he could get the home pass approved despite the school’s decision to deny him one.

The suit charges that McGlade then reached into Hector’s pants and fondled the boy’s genitals. While Hector objected, he said McGlade told him “this will be alright.”

The suit goes on to say that McGlade then briefly left the room and came back, closing the door behind him. This time McGlade was naked from the waist down. Hector alleges McGlade made Hector help him masturbate then forced Hector to perform oral sex on him. He says McGlade told him not to tell anyone about the incident.

The suit states McGlade told Hector he likely would obtain the home pass but to follow up with him after Mass on Sunday. He also offered to make Hector an altar boy. After Mass, Hector alleges McGlade met him in an activity room, where he exposed himself again and forced the boy perform oral sex. The suit states McGlade then lowered Hector’s pants and engaged in “forcible anal sex” with the boy. The lawsuit states that McGlade then gave the boy the home pass.

The suit goes onto say the boy attempted to contact DCF to report the incidents but was unable to do so. When he went home, he told his mother what had occurred with McGlade.

The suit states that “despite objections being raised,” DCF then instructed Hector to return to the school. When a DCF employee came to his mother’s home to take him back to the school, he refused and ran away. Tomasiewicz declined to discuss whether DCF or the diocese were alerted to the incidents.

Among the suits’ many allegations is that the diocese disregarded complaints that McGlade was sexually abusing minors and allowed such conduct to continue.

They also claim the boys, who are now mostly in their late 30s, all have struggled with severe psychological trauma that continues to impact their life today. They also charge the diocese with failing to protect the boys or report the assaults to authorities as required by law.

The suit filed by Kelly Reardon on behalf of John Doe alleges that the diocese allowed McGlade to continue to use the 12-year-old boy as a “sex object.”

As they have done in past cases in which they have won millions of dollars in damages for people who say they were sexually assaulted by priests when they were children, Kelly Reardon and her father, Robert Reardon, again charged in this suit that the diocese and Reilly have been part of a conspiracy by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to conceal allegations of child sex abuse by clergy from law enforcement, government officials, parishioners and the public and have kept secret files containing records of the abuse that are accessible only to bishops and church hierarchy.

Kelly Reardon said her client, who still lives in Connecticut, did not tell anyone about the incidents until many years later, when he revealed what happened to his therapist and family. She said the man has had a very difficult life since the incidents as he has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction and mental health issues.

j.wojtas@theday.com

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