Lawsuit Claims Sexual Abuse at Guilford Church

NBC 30
August 2, 2007

New Haven, Conn. — A man in his 40s has filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Hartford and his former parish priest, claiming he was sexually abused in 1974 by the priest in Guilford, Conn.

The man, identified in court papers only as Michael Doe, a former altar boy at St. George Catholic Church, claims the Rev. Daniel McSheffery sexually abused him when he was an 11-year-old boy.

The lawsuit, filed in Superior Court July 18, is the most recent in a series of sex-abuse claims against McSheffery, a priest who served in several churches in Connecticut since the 1960s. Doe's attorney, Thomas M. McNamara, said his client is seeking "the value of what McSheffrey and the diocese took from him that he'll never be able to

regain. We'll let a jury decide what that is."

In 2005, the Hartford Archdiocese reached a $22 million settlement with 43 alleged clergy sex abuse victims. That settlement stemmed from abuse claims against 14 priests, including McSheffery.

McSheffery, now in his mid-70s, has been on administrative leave since 2002, when the first abuse allegations against him arose.

Doe can legally file the civil suit because of a state law passed in 2002 that extended the statute of limitations so that victims of child sexual abuse can file suits until they are 48.

New Haven attorney Hugh Keefe, who is representing McSheffery, had no comment on the most recent lawsuit, but emphasized that his client has not been convicted of any crime.

"Father McSheffery has not been found guilty either civilly or criminally in any court anywhere," Keefe said Wednesday.

The Rev. John Gatzak, director of communication for the Archdiocese of Hartford, said he had no comment specifically about the most recent lawsuit, but said such allegations "cause us to think of the pain on the part of the victims and to redouble the church's efforts to make sure such abuse never occurs again."


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