Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Hospital pedophile

Addressing the awful legacy of George Reardon, pedophile
By Susan Campbell on February 15, 2011 1:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (4)

If only he hadn't done it. If only countless children under the purported care of George Reardon, St. Francis Hospital's former head of endocrinology, been spared.

But no. Reardon spent decades sexually abusing his young patients under the guise of a bogus human growth study. The perpetrator died in 1998, and left the rest of us to make things right, as much as that is possible.

Jury selection in the landmark St. Francis sex abuse case starts next month, with the trial scheduled to begin in April. Said Timothy O'Keefe, whose Hartford law firm represents 65 of the case's plaintiffs: “St. Francis Hospital has made every effort to intimidate these plaintiffs into withdrawing these claims. These people refuse to be intimidated by the hospital’s actions. They will continue to pursue these matters to a fair conclusion." Earlier this month, St. Francis lawyers filed a motion asking that plaintiffs' names be made public. You can read the the plaintiff's lawyers response.pdf, filed Monday.

This state legislative session, Sen. Beth Bye has introduced a bill that would eliminate the state's statute of limitations that restricts victims of childhood sexual abuse from seeking civil damages once 30 years have elapsed from their 18th birthday. The bill -- and this is a notable difference from a similar bill introduced last session -- would apply strictly to crimes committed on or after the time the bill takes effect.

Last session, a bill was introduced that would have extended the state's statute of limitations law, and would have been applied retroactively. The bill was not limited to Reardon's victims, but Reardon's employer and the local hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church fiercely lobbied against the change. Among other arguments, the Hartford Archdiocese insisted that the bill was an assault on Roman Catholicism. It was not. It was, instead, an attempt to provide legal redress for victims of pedophiles, and for victims of institutions that harbor pedophiles.

For what legislators said was a lack of support, the bill was withdrawn. This session, Bye said adult survivors who won’t be helped by the new bill have nevertheless thanked her for introducing it.

“I was expecting there to be folks who wouldn’t be happy,” said Bye, “but we should start by getting something prospective so no one ends up at this place again.”

Of any crime that is brought before a judge, childhood sexual abuse is uniquely ugly in that the perpetrators often intimidate and coerce their young victims into silence. Sometimes, that silence takes years to break through. We who are left must address this awful legacy, and not just of Reardon, but of child abusers everywhere.

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