Nearly 50 people who claim a doctor at a Catholic hospital in Connecticut molested them as children sued the Hartford Archdiocese, saying it should have prevented the alleged abuse.
The lawsuit, filed in Waterbury Superior Court last week, says the archdiocese shares responsibility for the actions of Dr. George Reardon. He practiced medicine at Hartford’s St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, operated by archdiocese officials at the time, for 30 years.
Scores of people claim Reardon, who died in 1998, molested them in his office at the hospital and took inappropriate photographs as part of a bogus “growth study.”
A message seeking comment was left Wednesday for an archdiocese spokesman.
More than 100 people also have sued the hospital in separate court actions.
Reardon resigned from the hospital in 1993 amid the molestation accusations but never faced criminal charges.
The owner of his former home in West Hartford discovered more than 50,000 photo slides and more than 100 movie reels of child pornography in a hidden storage space while renovating the house in May 2007. Authorities said evidence links the images to Reardon.
New Haven attorney Joel Faxon, who represents the 49 people who are suing the archdiocese, said the proceedings are expected to be combined with the lawsuits against the hospital.
“Obviously our clients demand that all parties responsible take responsibility for what happened there,” he said. “That’s their main objective, to shine the light of day on what’s been a cover-up … for over 30 years.”
The new suit against the archdiocese alleges it operated with the hospital as “joint venturers and/or partners” in running St. Francis for decades and therefore shares responsibility for Reardon’s actions.
Two nuns from the archdiocese were executive directors during Reardon’s tenure, including one who sat on the hospital’s research committee, which would have had oversight over the study Reardon claimed to be performing.
The hospital switched to a corporate management structure in 1988, though the archbishop still serves as hospital board chairman.
Hospital officials have said they were unaware of specific allegations against Reardon until 1993, when the state sought to revoke his license.
According to the documents, Connecticut officials suspended Reardon’s license in July 1993 after allegations of inappropriate contact with at least seven minors from 1956 to 1989.
Officials alleged there were several other child patients Reardon might have abused up to 1992.
In a consent order signed with the state in 1995, Reardon was prohibited from ever practicing medicine in Connecticut or any other state. New York state medical officials revoked his medical license in 1997 based on the Connecticut situation.
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