Lawsuits Abound As Hartford Archdiocese Marks 50th Anniversary

Associated Press
August 4, 2003

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- The Archdiocese of Hartford will celebrate its 50th anniversary Wednesday as it faces more than a dozen sexual abuse allegations against its priests.

The dioceses of Bridgeport and Norwich have settled - or are resolving - priest abuse cases, while Hartford is defending itself against 18 lawsuits accusing priests of abuse, the Connecticut Post reported in Tuesday's editions.

New Haven lawyer Thomas MacNamara has filed three lawsuits against the archdiocese on behalf of clients and is working on five others, claiming in part that the archdiocese knew of the alleged abuse and did nothing.

"In the long run, a settlement would be best for my clients, but if we have to go to trial I think we will be very, very successful," he said.

The Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the archdiocese, told The Associated Press Monday that there was nothing new about the lawsuits or allegations.

Three priests have been suspended or relieved of their duties since January 2002 because of complaints of abuse, Gatzak said.

The archdiocese, established by Pope Pius XII on Aug. 6, 1953, has settled six complaints of abuse since January 2002, the Post reported.

Gatzak told the Post that the archdiocese is organizing a mediation process similar to what Bridgeport operates.

In interviews with the Post, three men provided details of alleged abuse by the Rev. Thomas Glynn, the Rev. Raymond Paul and the Rev. Stephen Foley of the Hartford Archdiocese more than 30 years ago.

Kevin Zile attended St. Matthews Church in Bristol with his family. He also attended the church school.

He recalled Glynn as "charismatic, outgoing."

Zile said he got drunk the afternoon the abuse allegedly occurred.

He said he did not initially understand what had happened, and did not tell his parents.

Zile said he continued weekend visits with Glynn after the priest was transferred to Holy Trinity Church in Wallingford in the late 1960s.

The abuse continued until he graduated from high school.

"I was a full-blown alcoholic by that point, drinking and using drugs on a daily basis, but it helped to block the memories of what he did to me," he told the Post.

Glynn, who has been accused of molesting eight boys since the 1960s, died in 1993.

John "Jack" Collins lived in the Boston area with his parents until his mother took him as a young teenager and his sister to Hartford.

He said he began hanging around a Hartford firehouse after school when he met Foley, a former chaplain at the fire department. Foley took an interest in the young man and talked to Collins' mother about getting him into high school in Bloomfield where Foley was pastor of Christ the King Church.

"What I needed was a safe environment to talk about what was going on in my life and he provided that," Collins said.

Collins, now 48, said the alleged abuse has continued to affect him.

Foley was a priest as recently as March, but was removed from public service. He lives at St. Thomas More Seminary in Bloomfield.

He and Christ the King Church, where Foley was the pastor, and the Archdiocese of Hartford, were named in a lawsuit by another man who alleges he was the victim of sexual abuse.

Another man, 46, who would not give his full name, told the newspaper that Paul molested him while he was in St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury recovering from burns he received in a house fire. He said his arms and legs were secured to the bed and he was unable to move when he was molested. He said the abuse continued when he was in the hospital.

Gatzak would not give Paul's status or location.


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