Former Altar Boy Comes Forward with Allegations against Priest

By Associated Press
August 21, 2002

New London, CT - A second former altar boy has come forward with sexual assault allegations against a former Diocese of Norwich priest.

A lawsuit filed in New London Superior Court this week claims that former priest Bruno Primavera assaulted a 14-year-old boy in the late 1970s when Primavera worked at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London.

Primavera had been transferred to the church after allegations arose at a Westbrook parish that he repeatedly sexually molested and assaulted another 14-year-old boy, the lawsuit claims. The alleged victim, now 38, filed a lawsuit earlier this month.

Both lawsuits name the diocese and Primavera.

New London lawyer Robert Reardon, who is representing both former altar boys, says the diocese should have known of Primavera's illegal sexual acts and it did nothing to prevent or investigate them.

The plaintiff in the latest lawsuit is a man, now 38, who is identified only as John L. Doe. Reardon said Doe, who is married with children and still lives in southeastern Connecticut, feared the lawsuit would embarrass his family public.

"My client has been troubled with this his entire life," Reardon told the Norwich Bulletin.

Reardon says Doe met Primavera in 1978 when Primavera was working as a leader in St. Mary's Catholic Youth Organization, of which Doe was a member.

Reardon says Primavera lured Doe to his rectory bedroom one day by asking the 14-year-old boy to listen to his stereo. The bedroom was decorated with a leopard-print bedspread and fluffy pillows on the floor, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says Primavera fondled Doe's genitals, performed oral sex on him and engaged in other acts of sexual assault and exploitation.

"The fact that this man's room was decorated like this should have sent a message to the other priest's living there," Reardon said. "Someone should have done something to prevent this."

Doe reported the alleged abuse to his parents, who later complained to St. Mary's officials. Primavera immediately was removed from his post at St. Mary's, Reardon said.

The suit names as defendants Primavera; the diocese; St. Mary's; former Norwich bishop Daniel P. Reilly, now bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass.; and Monsignor Thomas Bride, who now is vicar general of the diocese and pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Quaker Hill.

Primavera, who lives in New Britain and is no longer a priest, said Tuesday night he had not been served with Doe's lawsuit and would not comment on it until he had retained an attorney.

"I'm not saying anything about this yet," Primavera said.

Norwich attorney Michael Driscoll, who represents the diocese, said the diocese also had not been served with the suit and would not comment on it until he had read through it.

Earlier this month, Reardon filed a similar lawsuit in Middletown Superior Court on behalf of Michael Nelligan, a 38-year-old man now living in Westbrook and Portland, Maine.

Nelligan claims Primavera repeatedly sexually assaulted him when he was 14 and Primavera was a priest at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Westbrook in the late 1970s.

The diocese later sent Primavera to Servants of the Paraclete Treatment Center in New Mexico, where he was treated for his alleged acts of sexual abuse, Reardon said.

The diocese also is named in another sexual abuse suit filed by a man under the pseudonym John Doe, who claims former East Lyme priest Richard T. Buongirno repeatedly sexually abused him as a boy. Reardon also is representing Doe in that case.


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