Priest Abuse Trial: Judge Blocks Testimony From Church’s Expert Witness

The Hartford Courant

The Hartford Courant

2:03 p.m. EST, February 2, 2012
A judge on Thursday said the Catholic Church cannot defend itself from a priest sex abuse case by arguing that its response to the abuse — while inappropriate now — was widely accepted when the abuse occurred 30 years ago.

It was the second time in less than a year that a judge in Connecticut presiding over a negligence claim arising from child sexual abuse blocked a defendant from preventing historical evidence about changing societal attitudes toward child sexual abuse. Last year, Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban, also sitting in Waterbury, ruled thatSt. Francis Hospital could not present such testimony by an expert witness in a case involving abuse by former hospital endocrinologist Dr. George Reardon.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Kevin Dubay ruled against the Archdiocese of Hartford, which is defending itself from the claim that it allowed a priest to abuse a former altar boy when it ignored prior allegations against the priest.

The altar boy, identified in court papers as Jacob Doe, claims he was abused as an adolescent from 1981 to 1983 in Derby by Father Ivan Ferguson. Ferguson admitted to fomrer Archbishop John F. Whealon in 1979 that he had previously abused two boys who attended church in the Tariffville section of Simsbury.

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