Ex-Pastor of Abuse
By Gerald Renner and Christine Dempsey
Twin brothers who say they were sexually abused for years by a former pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Vernon are suing the former pastor, the church and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich.
Matthew and Mark Nutt, 28, charge in a civil lawsuit they filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford that the Rev. Thomas J. Doyle, a close family friend, began molesting them separately beginning when they were 14 years old.
Their parents, James and Mary Nutt of Vernon, also are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The brothers now live in Bangor, Maine.
The brothers say the priest gave them expensive presents and took them separately on trips in the Northeast, but neither knew the other had engaged in sexual relations with Doyle until they came to discuss it during a college class on human sexuality in 1990.
The sexual relationship continued with Matthew for six years and with Mark for 10 years, until 1989 when he was 24, the complaint says.
Doyle has been living in Manhasset, N.Y., but has an unpublished telephone number and could not be reached for comment.
Bishop Daniel P. Reilly removed Doyle as pastor in September 1992 when the men first brought the allegations against the priest to Reilly's attention, said Joseph T. Sweeney, a Hartford attorney who represents the Diocese of Norwich and Sacred Heart parish.
Doyle's religious order, the Marianist Society, suspended Doyle from the active ministry Sept. 29, 1992, pending investigation, the society said in a statement issued from its Baltimore headquarters.
The statement, by Marianist Brother Stephen Glodek, said Doyle has completed a psychological evaluation and that the Marianists have paid for psychological counseling and therapy for the two brothers.
"The Marianists feel a deep sense of compassion for anyone injured by such alleged misconduct," the statement said.
The 28-count complaint also names Marianist Society as a defendant, saying the church authorities failed to train and supervise the priest properly.
Sweeney rejected that allegation, saying there was no reason to suspect Doyle of any moral wrongdoing until the brothers made their complaint to the bishop in September 1992.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Farmington attorney Holly Abery- Wetstone, also names as defendants a Catholic priest, the Rev. Michael Melendez, and a Franciscan friar, Stephen DeMatteis, both from Brooklyn, N.Y.
The brothers say neither the priest nor the friar did anything to prevent the abuse when the brothers told them about it at a retreat in Cape May, N.J., in 1983. Mark Nutt further alleges in the lawsuit that DeMatteis made a sexual advance toward him when he told the friar what had been happening.
Neither Melendez nor DeMatteis could be reached for comment.
The brothers said in a telephone interview that, tat first, they hesitated about telling their parents what had happened after they became aware that each had had sexual engagements with the priest.
"We decided my mother would not be able to deal with it," Matthew Nutt said. "I thought she would have a nervous breakdown if she found out. Her Catholicism, her faith was everything for her."
However, Matthew said, his mother herself broached the general subject of sexual abuse when she saw an article about it in the newspaper in September 1992.
"That article led my mother to ask if I knew anyone abused by clergy. I said yes. She asked, 'Have you ever been abused?' I said yes."
"That's what got the ball rolling," Matthew Nutt said.
Sweeney said Doyle "should be considered innocent until proven guilty," but added, "the allegations are shocking, very upsetting, I think, to everyone.
"We all feel a deep sense of compassion for those who may have been victimized in this complaint," Sweeney said.
Kathy Hoskins, a Baltimore attorney, represents the Marianist Society. She did not return repeated telephone calls for comment. It was unclear whether she also represents Doyle.
Doyle, who is about 60 years old and was ordained in 1974, served as a parish priest at St. Bernard's Church in Rockville between 1976 and 1978, St. Joseph's Church in New London until 1979, St. Mary's Church in Clinton until 1981 and Sacred Heart Church until 1992.
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