More Argument in Priest Abuse Case

By Edmund H. Mahony
The Hartford Courant
February 2, 2012,0,812789.story

The parties trying a sexual abuse complaint against the Archdiocese of Hartford spent much of Friday arguing over how much the jury should hear of testimony given at a related legal proceeding by one of the world's foremost experts on clergy sexual abuse.

The subject of the argument was a transcript of a deposition taken in November from Thomas P. Doyle, a priest, canon lawyer, former Vatican diplomat and authority on child abuse. In 2006, Doyle co-authored the book "Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse."

In 1985, concerned that the bishops of the Catholic Church were ill-equipped to deal with growing evidence of clergy abuse, Doyle also co-wrote a manual on preventing and reacting to abuse that was considered the definitive work on the subject at the time.

That manual was one of the subjects discussed Friday in the suit by a former altar boy who claims he was sexually abused by Father Ivan Ferguson, often at a church rectory in Derby, from 1981 to 1983. The suit contends the church allowed the abuse to take place because it failed to act when Ferguson admitted molesting two boys two years earlier.

Thomas McNamara, the lawyer who sued in behalf of the altar boy, considered calling Doyle as a witness against the archdiocese, but subsequently chose not to call him. The church, represented by attorney John Sitarz, decided even later that it wanted to present selected portions of Doyle's deposition testimony to jurors.

For most of the trial session Friday, both McNamara and Sitarz tried to persuade Superior Court Judge Kevin G. Dubay to admit portions of the transcript that supported their cases and weakened their opponent's.

Dubay ultimately allowed a limited number of questions and answers to be presented to the jury.

Earlier in the day, a priest assigned to a parish in the Naugatuck Valley testified for the archdiocese that the now middle-aged victim, known in court papers as Jacob Doe, attended his church for years after the abuse ended. He described the victim as an outstanding altar boy who grew into an outstanding religion teacher and church lector.

He said the victim grew into a parishioner who "was not only good, but very good." The priest said Doe stopped attending church in 2007.

The victim presented evidence earlier in the trial that emotional problems he suffers as a result of the abuse overwhelmed him in 2007 first when he learned he would have to testify in public for a friend who also was abused by Ferguson, and again when he decided to sue himself.

In its opening statement to the jury, the archdiocese argued that the victim showed no emotional problems until he decided to sue.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume Tuesday.









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