Federal Trial of Former Groton Priest Set to Start; Sexual Abuse Charges Made by Former Altar Boy

By Day Staff Writer
The Day [New London CT]
October 9, 2001

Groton - Allegations of sexual assault against a former priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church are to be heard in a trial scheduled to begin Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport.

John Waddington of Groton says Charles Many of Burlington, Vt., sexually assaulted him when Waddington was a teen-ager serving as an altar boy at Sacred Heart, which is on Sacred Heart Drive in the city.

From 1978 through 1981, Many was a parish priest at Sacred Heart, which was then under the pastoral care of the Society of St. Edmund, a religious order based in Vermont. The Edmundites also have a retreat at Enders Island in Stonington. The Edmundites recently withdrew from pastoral care of the church, which is within the Diocese of Norwich.

Waddington, who is 37, divorced, the father of four and a 20-year employee at Electric Boat, filed suit against Many in 1996, two years after Waddington began looking for others in the Northeast and in Canada willing to say they were similarly abused. Thus far, Waddington has not been successful in finding others who claim similar abuse..

Many, who is 54, resigned from the priesthood and left the Edmundites in 1994. He declined to comment on the case when reached by telephone at his home in Vermont on Monday. Many, according to Waddington's lawyer, R. Bartley Halloran of West Hartford, intends to represent himself at the trial.

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall will preside at the trial, which will be heard by an eight-member jury. The trial is to begin at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Waddington also had named the Society of St. Edmund as a defendant in the suit. However, Halloran said the Edmundites were removed as defendants because the judge was not persuaded that the religious order had prior knowledge of what Waddington is alleging about Many.

In 1981, the Edmundites transferred Many from Sacred Heart to a parish in Essex, Vt. In 1996, the bishop of Burlington, Vt., received a complaint that Many was involved in "inappropriate behavior" with a young parishioner in Essex. Many was then transferred to the Edmundite Generalate in Burlington, where he worked as an archivist until he left the priesthood in 1994. He went to work for an insurance company in Vermont.

The lawsuit, which sought a minimum of $50,000 in damages when it was filed, is in federal court because Many lives in Vermont and Waddington in Connecticut. Waddington also alleges that as a result of molestation he has suffered emotional anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, loss of faith and a damaged relationship with his family.

In the summer of 1994, Waddington started placing advertisements in newspapers looking for other members of the Sacred Heart teen group active when Many served at the church. He then placed the ads in other papers in the Northeast.

Halloran said he may call six or seven other witnesses, all from the Groton area and at Sacred Heart when Many was there, during the trial. Many has four witnesses listed, none of whom is a priest, said Halloran.


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