|Priest Linked to Abuse Cases Ordered to Return to State
By Dave Altimari
October 7, 2008
A priest who has been accused of sexually abusing boys he lured through his work as a state police chaplain and who has repeatedly dodged court orders to answer charges that he assaulted a teenager now faces a final deadline set by a frustrated Superior Court judge.
If the Rev. Stephen Foley does not return before the end of October he will, in effect, forfeit his right to defend himself against allegations in a civil case that he sexually abused William Noll over a three-year period when Noll was a teenager.
Superior Court Judge Robert B. Shapiro issued the unusual "default" order as the result of Foley's failure to show up for a video deposition in Arlington, Va., on Aug. 7. Foley had been living in Virginia for nearly a year when he was served with the deposition order last March and had already failed to show up for a deposition in a previous sexual abuse case that was settled just before it went to trial.
Foley moved to Virginia when he was ordered to leave the St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield last year after The Courant reported that he was driving a Ford Crown Victoria similar to the vehicle used by state troopers.
Several of the men who have made allegations against Foley since 1993, including Noll, contend that the priest lured them with his position as chaplain and his pseudo police car. They were attracted by the lights and sirens, they said, and the access Foley had to fire and accident scenes, lawsuits charge.
The deposition in the Noll case had been planned for at least six weeks. On the eve of the deposition, Foley's attorneys filed a motion claiming that he was too sick with skin cancer to answer questions.
Shapiro denied the motion and found Foley and attorneys Walter R. Hampton Jr. and Julie Strzemienski in contempt of court.
"Since Foley willfully failed to appear for his deposition ... and since the plaintiff has been prejudiced thereby, a default is warranted as to Foley," Shapiro wrote in a Sept. 26 decision.
"This sanction is warranted also to encourage Foley to comply with the court's order that he appear in Connecticut to be deposed," Shapiro said.
It is unclear if Foley is still living in the Arlington, Va., area. A process server working for New London attorney Robert Reardon, who is Noll's lawyer, delivered the deposition notice to Foley at an apartment complex in Arlington in March.
"We don't really know where he is right now," Reardon said. "We're just waiting until Oct. 30 to see if he will show up."
When asked if Foley would be returning to Connecticut, Hampton said "absolutely."
"I have no reason to doubt that he will adhere to the court's order," Hampton said.
Hampton said he didn't know when Foley would return to Connecticut, but he admitted that the consequences for Foley are serious if he doesn't show up. He said Foley is aware that the judge "is giving him one more chance."
Hampton said Foley didn't appear at the Aug. 7 deposition because he believed there was a motion before Shapiro to stop it based on health reasons. Shapiro disputed that belief in his ruling, when he said that Foley and his attorneys have "unfairly tried to manipulate" the system.
Foley is still receiving a $1,000-a-month stipend, plus health benefits, from the Hartford archdiocese. He is still a priest, but he has been ordered not to perform any duties.
On Monday, church spokesman John Gatzak said he's sure church officials know where Foley is and have made the archdiocese in that area aware that he is there. Gatzak declined to say if Foley is in Virginia.
"He is not a slave. The archdiocese doesn't own him. The legal system has more control over him," Gatzak said. "If the legal system can't get him to do what he is supposed to do, you can't expect the archdiocese to do it."
The archdiocese has settled 12 sexual abuse cases against Foley. All but one were part of a $22 million settlement involving 43 people who said they were abused by priests assigned to the Hartford archdiocese.
Last March, the archdiocese agreed to pay a former Bloomfield altar boy $599,000 on the eve of a trial involving Foley. In the weeks leading up to that settlement, a Connecticut judge issued an order that Foley could be deposed out of state.
Archdiocese attorney Jack Sitarz declined to comment on the judge's ruling.
Shapiro has ordered Hampton to pay Reardon $1,786 in travel expenses to Virginia for the deposition that never took place.
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