Man Alleges Priest Abused Him at St. Mary's
Former Priest, Diocese, Bishop Are Named in Suit

By Day Staff Writer
The Day [New London CT]
August 22, 2002

Norwich - The Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese is facing another lawsuit from a parishioner who says a priest sexually molested him years ago.

Using the pseudonym John Doe, the 38-year-old man has filed a lawsuit in New London Superior Court alleging that Bruno Primavera, a priest formerly assigned to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London, molested him in the late 1970s, when Doe was a parishioner. The incidents took place when Doe was 14.

Doe, in his lawsuit, says the incidents occurred in the parish and on diocese premises, sometimes in Primavera's bedroom in the church rectory. He alleges that Primavera on numerous occasions fondled his genitals and touched him in other sexually inappropriate ways.

Besides the diocese and Primavera, Doe also names as defendants in his lawsuit former Norwich Bishop Daniel Reilly, St. Mary Star of the Sea Church and Monsignor Thomas Bride, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Quaker Hill.

Jacqueline Keller, director of communications for the diocese, said Wednesday that the diocese could not comment because it has not received the lawsuit.

Robert Reardon Jr., Doe's attorney, said that the diocese and its leaders knew that Primavera was sexually molesting boys in his parish but did nothing to stop it.

"It took a great deal of courage for my client to come forward," said Reardon. "He is local and has children in the local schools. This changed his life forever."

The lawsuit charges the diocese and its leaders with negligence and reckless and wanton conduct.

"The injuries and damages sustained by the plaintiff were the result of the acts and omissions which constitute negligence and carelessness of the defendants," the lawsuit said. It charges they "failed to properly investigate claims of sexual misconduct of priests in the diocese, especially the defendant Primavera, and failed to seek out victims of sexual assault, abuse or exploitation."

The lawsuit also charges Primavera with sexual assault and battery.

Reardon said Doe met Primavera when Primavera was working as a leader in St. Mary's Catholic Youth Organization. Doe was a member of that group. Primavera lured Doe to his rectory bedroom by asking the 14-year-old to listen to records, Reardon said. Primavera then assaulted Doe.

As a result of Primavera's actions, Doe suffers from serious mental illness and emotional distress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, fear and psychological and psychiatric disorders, the lawsuit said. He continues to seek medical treatment for his illnesses.

The plaintiff is seeking compensatory, exemplary and punitive damages and attorney's fees and costs.

Reardon said he recently spoke to Primavera and learned that he left the priesthood several years ago after undergoing treatment in New Mexico.

Primavera could not be reached for comment.

Earlier this month, Reardon filed a similar lawsuit in Middletown Superior Court on behalf of Michael Nelligan, of Westbrook. The suit alleges that Primavera, while assigned to St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Westbrook, molested him in 1977 and 1978, when Nelligan was a parishioner. The incidents took place when Nelligan was 14 and 15.

After the abuse allegation surfaced, Primavera was transferred to New London, where he allegedly molested Doe.

The diocese is also named in another sexual abuse suit filed by a man under the pseudonym John Doe, who claims former East Lyme priest Richard Buongirno repeatedly sexually abused him as a boy. Reardon is also representing the plaintiff in that case.

After the diocese was made aware of an earlier sexual relationship between Buongirno and a teen-ager, the plaintiff alleges, Buongirno was allowed to serve in several parishes, including Xavier High School in Middletown, where he again sexually molested the plaintiff.


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