Twenty lawsuits were filed against the Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese this week on behalf of several men who claim they were assaulted as boys at a day school for at-risk children.
The alleged abuse—which the lawsuit outline in explicit detail—occurred over the course of a decade and involved boys between the ages of 10 and 15. The alleged abuse was perpetrated at the former Academy of Mount St. John in Deep River by Christian brothers Paul McGlade and Pascal Alford, according to the lawsuit.
Both men have since died, but the lawsuits say the two were known sexual predators and that the diocese should have been aware of their alleged behavior. The residential facility had a clinical day school and was organized and operated by the diocese, according to the lawsuits.
The Congregation of Christian Brothers is a worldwide religious community within the Roman Catholic Church.
Both McGlade and Alford are from Australia. News reports indicate Alford was implicated in the sexual abuse of young boys in that country, too. According to a 2011 story in the Sydney Morning Herald, Alford and other Christian brothers were accused of the sexually assaulting children from the St. Augustine’s Boys Home in Geelong, Australia. Alford died in 2004.
The lawsuits, which were filed in New London Superior Court by Hartford attorney Patrick Tomasiewicz of Fazzano & Tomasiewicz, says McGlade was involved in fellatio, anal sex, masturbation and fondled many boys. The suit says Alford also abused boys but to a lesser extent that generally included fondling and groping. The lawsuits also state the men often told the boys that they’d be betraying the church and God by not submitting to the sexual abuse.
McGlade was the executive director at the facility, and Alford was a music teacher. Neither was a priest.
One lawsuit, Christopher Doe v. The Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese, details the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy in 1991 and 1992 by McGlade.
The suit states that, as the boy was preparing the chapel for service, McGlade began to discuss masturbation with the boy.
“During the discussion and preparing of the chapel, Brother Paul approached the plaintiff and began to fondle the plaintiff’s genitals, asking the plaintiff how it felt,” according to the lawsuit. “While fondling the plaintiff’s genitals, Brother Paul told the plaintiff that if the plaintiff betrayed the church, plaintiff would have a successful life. Brother Paul then began to masturbate the plaintiff, and for several minutes, at which point he released the plaintiff.”
Brother Paul, the lawsuit said, also told the boy that a “betrayal by the plaintiff of the Lord or the Lord’s servants would result in the plaintiff going to jail.”
Another lawsuit, Michael Doe v. The Norwich Roman Catholic Diocese, details sexual abuse allegedly committed by Alford.
“During this time period, while taking trumpet lessons, brother Pascal began touching the plaintiff’s thigh area and moved his hand to the plaintiff’s genitals,” according to the lawsuit. “Brother Pascal then began to fondle the plaintiff’s genitals through the plaintiff’s clothing.”
Tomasiewicz declined to discuss the lawsuits, other than to say additional lawsuits will be filed.
The suits seek an undetermined amount of compensatory and punitive damages.
All of the alleged victims are now 48 years old or younger. Plaintiffs in Connecticut are allowed to file civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse as a minor up until their 48th birthday.
The diocese is represented by Brad Babbitt, a partner with Robinson & Cole. Babbitt did not respond to a request for comment Friday. No one from the diocese was available for comment at press time.