|Rev. James Curry Had Faced a Separate Rape Allegation
Though No Criminal Charges Were Brought, Civil Lawsuit Details Claims
By Joe Wojtas
February 24, 2008
Groton — The lawsuit newly filed by "Mary Doe" is not the first time the late James Curry, formerly a priest in the Norwich diocese, has been accused of raping a young girl.
In 1981 a Groton woman who had worked as Curry's housekeeper filed a criminal complaint against Curry with the town police. In it she alleged the priest had raped her 11-year-old daughter on various occasions in 1980 and 1981.
Curry resigned from the church that fall, while denying the allegations. Diocesan spokesman Michael Strammiello said Friday that records show the Norwich diocese removed Curry from his ministry.
The mother of the alleged victim, who is now 38, initially decided not to press charges because she did not want to expose her daughter to the court proceedings, her attorney said at the time. But two years later she and her daughter re-filed her complaint with police and also sued Curry and St. Mary's Church.
The civil lawsuit said Curry committed second- and fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.
Curry was never charged with any criminal offense in the case. The mother, who still lives in town and declined to comment last week, charged at the time that prosecutors were resisting her attempts to get Curry arrested.
The mother wrote to then-Gov. William A. O'Neill, who in turn asked Austin McGuigan, chief state's attorney at the time, to look into why the case had not been prosecuted.
The late C. Robert Satti, former New London state's attorney, was in charge of the investigation. The girl's lawyer, Stephen Horton, at one point accused Satti of stalling.
McGuigan, who is now in private practice, said last week that the decision to bring charges was up to Satti, and he does not know why Curry was never charged.
"There had to be a problem with the case if we did not take it," he said.
At the time of the investigation, McGuigan told The Day that there was no deal to let Curry retire in exchange for not being prosecuted.
But Thomas McNamara of New Haven, one of the attorneys for Mary Doe, said Friday that his investigation leads him to believe there was such an agreement.
McNamara said that investigating the old case may lead him to witnesses who can support Mary Doe's claim.
"Pedophiles don't just have one victim. If you see one mouse in your house, then you have 20," he said.
The earlier civil suit, which was settled 22 years ago, charged that Curry had "extreme and unusual influence" over the girl, which he used to help him commit the alleged sexual assault. It claimed the girl suffered extreme physical, psychological and emotional injuries, some of which would be permanent. It said she would need continued medical and psychiatric care.
The suit alleged that St. Mary Church Corp. knew or should have known that Curry "was a person afflicted with a sexually deviant personality" because he possessed a "desire and proclivity to engage in sexual acts with young female children" and the parish failed to protect young girls associated with the church.
A judge sealed Curry's deposition in the case and ordered the parties in the case not to disclose the contents of the deposition to the press or anyone else.
In a sworn affidavit filed in 1983 when she was 14, the girl stated, "I am not of age, but I believe in God and I know it is wrong to tell a lie. I have always been taught to tell the truth and I am telling the truth in this case."
The case was settled in 1986 with the late Judge D. Michael Hurley partially sealing the case file and ordering the attorneys and others involved in the case not to discuss the agreement.
While the amount of the settlement was never disclosed, court records show that before the suit was settled, another New London Superior Court judge placed a $250,000 attachment on a house Curry owned on Groton Long Point Road. The judge approved the girl's request for a prejudgment remedy because he agreed there was probable cause to sustain the girl's claim that Curry raped her.
Three months after the settlement, the 62-year-old Curry was found dead in his home. An autopsy revealed that he died of a lacerated spleen due to fractured ribs, diabetes and cardiomyopathy, or heart disease. Police said it appeared he died of natural causes.
Former Bishop of Norwich Daniel P. Reilly, who during his 19-year tenure transferred other priests suspected of sexual assaulting children and did not report the allegations to police, told more than 300 mourners at Curry's funeral Mass that "Certainly, the Lord placed heavy crosses on (Curry's) shoulders in recent years."
"Father Curry faced his struggles with an ever-growing love of the Lord. ... We pray now that he will have eternal peace and light that he so richly deserves," Reilly said.
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