Priest Facing New Lawsuit

By Penelope Overton
Hartford Courant [Connecticut]
March 19, 2003

A sixth man has come forward to file a sex abuse lawsuit against the Rev. Stephen C. Foley, a former state police and fire chaplain accused of using his position to molest young boys.

Ted Fortier, 41, of Wolcott, says Foley sexually abused him in 1976 as they traveled to New York City to attend a firemen's parade, said his attorney, Thomas McNamara. Fortier was 14 at the time.

The suit was filed in New Haven Superior Court last week.

Foley denies that he ever sexually abused anyone, according to Walter Hampton, his attorney. Foley, now 61, is still a priest, but he has been removed from all public service. He lives at St. Thomas More Seminary in Bloomfield.

"Father Foley is very troubled by these allegations," Hampton said. "He has given his entire life to the priesthood. He takes his trust very seriously. It disturbs him deeply that anyone might doubt that."

Fortier also targets Christ the King Church, where Foley was the pastor, and the Archdiocese of Hartford for allowing Foley to stay in public service after 1967, when a charge of sexual abuse was levied against Foley.

The suit contends that a parishioner told two priests from Christ the King Church and the archdiocese in a face-to-face meeting that Foley had abused a boy in the parishioner's home.

The parishioner contends that the priests said they would discipline Foley and remove him from service, but Foley remained, McNamara said. If the church had acted on this information, Fortier would have escaped harm, McNamara said.

The parishioner, an ex-firefighter, is now in his 80s and can't remember the names of the priests with whom he met, McNamara said. He later learned that his own son had allegedly been one of Foley's victims, he said.

Jack Sitarz, an attorney for the archdiocese, said he could not comment on the specifics of Fortier's lawsuit, but Hampton described the parishioner's recall of the alleged 1967 meeting as "pretty cloudy, at best."

Hampton said Foley does not recall ever meeting Fortier.

A spokesman for the Hartford archdiocese said it will look into claims of this 1967 meeting about Foley. Church records show Foley was ordained that year and would have been a first-year priest.

The suit does not go into detail about the alleged abuse, but McNamara said it fit Foley's pattern of using his position as fire and police chaplain to get close to and exploit vulnerable young Catholic boys.

"Ted has lost his trust in the Church," McNamara said. "Had they done the right thing, and pulled Foley out of there, Ted would have had the kind of normal childhood that every kid deserves."

Two other men say Foley abused them while he was pastor at Christ the King Church. The other three incidents allegedly happened while he was pastor at St. Robert Bellarmine Church in Windsor Locks.

Foley was placed on administrative leave in August 1993, when he was pastor of St. Dunstan's Church in Glastonbury, after it became known that a sexual abuse allegation had been lodged against him, said the Rev. John P. Gatzak, a spokesman for the archdiocese. Foley was removed as a state police chaplain around that time, and has been assigned to St. Thomas More Seminary since.

His alleged victims contend that Foley would use the trappings of his role as a fire and police chaplain to seduce them, taking them to fires or crime scenes and driving a Crown Victoria car outfitted with strobe lights.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.