Sex Assault Suits Hit East Haven Church

By Marissa Yaremich
New Haven Register [East Haven CT]
October 7, 2003

EAST HAVEN — Three former parishioners of St. Clare Roman Catholic Church have filed separate lawsuits against the church, the Archdiocese of Hartford and a Hartford County church, claiming one of their priests repeatedly sexually molested them when they were adolescents.

"Jack Doe," 41, "Joseph Doe," 39, and Robert Marino, 39, all former or current East Haven residents, recently filed the lawsuits in Superior Court at New Haven.

All three lawsuits accuse the Rev. Thomas Glynn, who served at St. Clare in the 1970s, of sexually assaulting them in various locations while they were under his supervision between 1974 and 1976.

The four suits follow a suit filed in June by a former St. Clare altar boy.

Robert Gillespie, 41, claimed Glynn preyed on him when he was 8, allegedly sexually assaulting him numerous times in the St. Clare rectory and at a local beach house from 1970 to 1973.

Glynn died Jan. 25, 1993, at 80 years old, after having served as a priest in the archdiocese for more than five decades.

The new lawsuits also name St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church of Bristol as a defendant because one of its priests failed to help defrock Glynn after a former altar boy warned him in 1971 that Glynn had sexually abused the boy years earlier.

That man, Roger Madore, 55, filed a similar suit last week against the archdiocese and St. Matthew’s, charging that Glynn repeatedly sexually abused him from 1964 to 1966.

Madore accuses Glynn of kissing, fondling and attempting to sodomize him in several locations, including Glynn’s car, his bedroom and other rooms in the rectory and in the sacristy, a room adjoining the sanctuary where sacred objects are stored.

"Madore is key to (the East Haven claims) because he told St. Matthew, and if they had done the right thing, these other guys at St. Clare wouldn’t have had to go through this," said the alleged victims’ attorney, Thomas McNamara of New Haven.

Marino, who with Madore is the only plaintiff to provide his true identity, claims Glynn often assaulted him in St. Clare’s rectory and in movie theaters while he was an 11-year-old altar boy.

"Glynn would tell (Marino) … not to tell anyone about their special friendship because no one would understand," Marino’s lawsuit stated.

The plaintiffs’ attorney, John Sitarz of Hartford, did not immediately return phone calls.

After he became fearful of the priest, Marino eventually told his parents, who in turn told a family friend — a deacon at another parish — who then contacted the archdiocese, said McNamara.

The archdiocese’s reaction, the attorney said, allegedly was to send another priest to Marino’s home to "placate" the parents and leave a church missal for their son.

But, McNamara said in a shocked tone, "(Glynn) was never taken out of commission."

As a result, the four boys are holding the archdiocese legally responsible for negligence as well as reckless and wanton conduct.

"After being informed, the Archdiocese of Hartford failed to take appropriate measures to prevent Glynn from abusing others," according to the lawsuits. These measures included enforcing policies that would investigate Glynn’s suspicious conduct or warning parishioners of the danger Glynn posed to minors.

Further, the archdiocese and both parishes failed to protect the minors’ physical, emotional and spiritual well-being, which all have been consequently damaged, said McNamara.

"This is a perfect case of the archdiocese finding out and just moving (Glynn) around" to other parishes where his sexual history was unknown, McNamara alleged.

McNamara said he anticipates the four men will not be the last of Glynn’s alleged victims to step forward, as several more people have contacted his office either confirming they knew of the abuse or were abused themselves.

The statute of limitations barred several of those claiming to be abused from filing lawsuits, he said.

According to state law, victims can make a legal claim up to 30 years after reaching 18 if they were minors when abused. The statute is flexible, however, if they served in the military, like Madore did, McNamara said.

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