Former Guilford/North Branford Priest Accused of Abuse in Lawsuit
By Zoe Roos
March 1, 2017
A lawsuit has been filed against the Archdiocese of Hartford by a former altar boy at St. George’s Church in Guilford, claiming former priest Daniel McSheffery sexually molested him for five years.
The suit, filed in superior court on Feb. 27, claims McSheffery began abusing the boy in the spring of 1977 when the boy was nine and continued for five years until the boy was 14. In that period, the lawsuit claims McSheffery abused the boy more than 250 times.
McSheffery, who died in 2014, was a priest at St. George’s from 1974 to 1986. Allegations of sexual misconduct concerning McSheffery first surfaced years ago, with the archdiocese settling numerous lawsuits against him with plaintiffs claiming that McSheffery sexually abused them in the late 1960s and 1970s while McSheffery served in Hartford. The Courier first reported on McSheffrey’s alleged crimes in 2002.
The current lawsuit lists the Archdiocese of Hartford as the only defendant, claiming the archdiocese knew of the abuse and did nothing, placing minors in danger.
The lawsuit claims the church hid the allegations of abuse and kept “the documentation in a locked file known as the ‘Secret Archival File’ or ‘Archival File,’ keeping hidden from parishioners and the public, accessible only to the archbishop and chancellor of the Archdiocese”.
The plaintiff’s attorney, Thomas McNamara, said his client decided to come forward because he could not be silent any longer.
“He has suffered with this long enough and he has finally said, ‘Here I am, this happened to me, and I am taking a stand,’” he said.
McNamara said McSheffery’s actions led to many lawsuits and referred to him as “one of the most frequent abusers.” He said there could be more victims who have yet to come forward.
“With a guy who was as sociopathically prolific as McSheffery, I would not be surprised if there are plenty more out there,” he said.
The plaintiff is claiming monetary, punitive, and exemplary damages.
A St. George’s Church representative directed a request for comment to the Archdiocese of Hartford. Archdiocese spokeswoman Maria Zona said it is the policy of the Archdiocese not to comment on cases pending litigation.