Bishop, Diocese Seek Exclusion from Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

By Associated Press
March 12, 2002

Norwich, CT - A lawyer for the Diocese of Norwich and Bishop Daniel A. Hart has requested that they be removed as defendants in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against a priest.

Superior Court Judge Ian McLachlan Monday heard arguments on a motion by the diocese for summary judgment in the case of John Doe vs. Richard T. Buongirno.

John Doe is a pseudonym for a man who is suing Buongirno, alleging that beginning in 1990, when Doe was 9 years old, Buongirno, then the pastor of St. Matthias Church in East Lyme, sexually assaulted him on several occasions.

The diocese and Hart were named co-defendants and are seeking to be dismissed from the suit.

The diocese is not responsible for the actions of Buongirno, attorney Joseph Sweeney argued Monday, because "this case does not allege that Father Buongirno was doing the these horrible things in furtherance of his pastoral duties."

Sweeney argued there was no evidence to show that the diocese could have known about Buongirno's behavior, citing a psychological report written in 1982 that said that while Buongirno showed a "tinge of effeminacy," there was "no concern of homosexuality."

Buongirno was arrested in June of 1999 on charges he sexually abused a child. He was charged with four counts of felony risk of injury to a minor and was freed after posting bond.

No ruling was issued Monday and the case has been continued until a date yet to be determined.


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