Saturday, March 19, 2011

New evidence

http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-reardon-0319-20110318,0,5696985.story
Hidden Photos, Film Evidence Allowed In Reardon Lawsuit

9:13 p.m. EDT, March 18, 2011
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WATERBURY —— Jurors in the first abuse suit against former St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center endocrinologist Dr. George Reardon will be allowed to hear testimony that he hid hundreds of thousands of pornographic images of his alleged victims in the walls of his home.

The hidden slides and motion picture film, discovered years after Reardon's death, were the subject of pretrial orders Friday by Superior Court Judge Dan Shaban that set out what evidence the first Reardon victim will be allowed to present in court.

The orders generally were supportive of the victim — who, among other things, will be allowed to present evidence for his claim that Reardon photographed and abused victims for as long as 30 years under the guise of an inadequately supervised, hospital-funded study of child and adolescent growth patterns.

But Shaban allowed lawyers for St. Francis to fight further about other key areas of evidence, saying he will settle additional admissibility questions in the context of the trial, as it unfolds. One of those questions is expected to turn on how many photographs of how many victims jurors will see.

A jury of six — four men and two women — has been seated and the presentation of evidence scheduled to begin on April 5.

Reardon was hired by St. Francis as its chief of endocrinology in 1963 and worked on what he called a long-running growth study until his retirement in 1993. His retirement was forced by two adults who complained to state medical regulators in the late 1980s that Reardon abused them as children while he attended medical school in Albany.

Reardon, who lived in West Hartford, died in 1998.

About 90 adults have suits pending against Reardon's employer, St. Francis, in which they claim the hospital failed in its obligation to supervise Reardon and prevent their abuse. Shaban has ordered that the suits be tried singly and sequentially. That order could be modified, or the hospital and the Reardon victims as a group could reach a settlement.

Another 60 or so adults tried to sue, but were blocked because their alleged abuse fell outside the state statute of limitations in child abuse cases. Investigators, lawyers and others who have been involved in the case suspect that Reardon may have abused more than 500 children, which, if true, would make him one of the country's most prolific child abusers.

Shaban ruled Friday that a West Hartford police captain can testify about the discovery of 50,000 to 60,000 slides and 130 reels of film hidden in Reardon's house. A family who had bought the home called the police after discovering the cache of pornography during a renovation.

Reardon took the pictures, ostensibly to document his growth study. But his now grown victims claim Reardon often filmed them in sexually suggestive acts or in simulated acts with other children.

In another of his orders, Shaban said the first victim can present evidence that St. Francis funded Reardon's study and paid for the camera equipment and film Reardon used to capture the photographic images contained on the slides and motion picture film.

In its defense, the hospital can present evidence that Reardon used hospital film and equipment for accepted medical reasons.

In addition, the first victim will be able to call as a witness a medical expert who will testify that a chaperone should have been present when Reardon studied his child subjects. And he can present evidence that Reardon wore a holstered sidearm during study sessions.

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