Additional Complaints against Priest Reported

By Gary Gentile
Hartford (CT) Courant
May 19, 1994

Vernon, CT - Two more men have stepped forward and said the Rev. Thomas J. Doyle sexually abused them when they were younger, according to the attorney for twin brothers who made similar accusations last week.

Farmington lawyer Holly Abery-Wetstone said Wednesday that two men called her recently to say they were sexually abused by Doyle when he was assigned to one of the churches he served in the state between 1976 and 1992. She would not identify the church or the names of the two men.

Matthew and Mark Nutt, formerly of Vernon, filed a lawsuit last week saying that Doyle had abused them while he was pastor at Sacred Heart Church in town.

Doyle served at St. Bernard's Church in Vernon beginning Oct. 1, 1976, then served at St. Joseph's Church in New London beginning Aug. 25, 1978. He went to St. Mary's Church in Clinton a year later, beginning Sept. 7, 1979, then returned to Vernon as pastor of Sacred Heart Church from Sept. 1, 1981, until he was removed as pastor Sept. 28, 1992.

The removal occurred after the Nutt twins made their charges known to Diocese of Norwich officials.

Wetstone said the two unidentified men have not decided whether to file lawsuits or to come forward as witnesses in support of statements made last week by the Nutt brothers, who are now 28 and live in Bangor, Maine. The brothers said Doyle began molesting them separately beginning when they were 14 years old.

"We haven't had detailed conversations yet," Wetstone said said of the additional two men. "They're discussing their options with me. Generally, they have similar stories. I don't want to provide any of the details because I've been asked not to reveal their identity. But on the surface, they sound very similar."

The attorney representing both Sacred Heart Church and the Diocese of Norwich said no other claims against Doyle have been filed with the diocese and no one has made any such accusations since the lawsuit was filed last week.

"Whether one other comes forth or many others come forth is secondary to the fact that, based on my investigation, I can say that without exception, everybody has told me they have no reason to suspect him or believe that any sexual misconduct or other impropriety on the part of Father Doyle was going on," lawyer Joseph T. Sweeney sad Wednesday.

Wetstone said she is checking Doyle's history since he joined the Marianist religious order for other possible complaints.

Meanwhile, one of the defendants, the Rev. Michael Melendez, denies he did anything wrong. Melendez is accused in the Nutts' lawsuit of not reporting the abuse to authorities.

In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court last week, Matthew Nutt says he told Melendez about the abuse during a retreat in Cape May, N.J., in 1983. The lawsuit says Melendez, who is now a Catholic priest serving at St. Bridgid's parish in Brooklyn, N.Y., did nothing to prevent the abuse, although both Connecticut and New Jersey state laws required him to report the claims.

"I just turned 21; I was still in college; I was just a kid," Melendez said in an interview earlier this week. "I didn't know anything about child molestation, about reporting or anything like that."

Melendez said Matthew Nutt told him he was having difficulties with Doyle, but did not specifically talk about the sexual abuse complaint.

"I didn't feel capable of handling this, so I told Steven Dematteis [retreat director]," Melendez said. "How was I supposed to read between the lines at 21 years old?"

Dematteis, who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, could not be reached for comment.


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