Man sues Norwich diocese, Groton church over sexual conduct of two priests

The Day

Nov. 1, 2019

By Joe Wojtas

A man has sued the Diocese of Norwich and retired Bishop Daniel Reilly, alleging he was the target of sexual assault and misconduct by two different priests connected with Sacred Heart Church in Groton.

He alleges the first incident occurred at the church when he was a 7-year-old altar boy, and then numerous others when he was a teenager by another priest who allegedly took him on “sleepovers” and plied him with whiskey.

Court records show the lawsuit was filed on behalf of John Doe, a pseudonym, by a New Haven law firm. The suit also named as defendants Sacred Heart Church, The Society of St. Edmund, the Rev. Charles Many and the estate of the late Father J. Lawrence Ouimet.

The suit is one of many filed against the diocese and Reilly in which adults now allege they were sexually assaulted as children by priests working in the diocese. Many of these incidents allegedly occurred during the 1975-1994 tenure of Reilly, who records show transferred priests he knew had been accused of sexually assaulting children to other parishes. The diocese has paid out more than $8 million in settlements to victims, one of whom says he was assaulted by Many, and faces more than 20 pending suits by other alleged victims.

Earlier this year, the diocese released a list of 45 priests who have had “allegations of substance” made against them. Both Many and Ouimet were on the list but the diocese offered no information about the allegations against them, which parishes they served or whether it had reported the allegations to police or the state Department of Children and Families as it has been required by law to do since 1971 if abuse is suspected.

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