June 15, 2011
Hartford Courant, Susan Campbell
Here we go again, Reardon redux.
Testimony began Tuesday at Superior Court in Waterbury for the second St. Francis child sex abuse trial, and although the jury is different, everything else looks sadly familiar.
The trial, like the first one that ended in a settlement last month for roughly a third of the 93 plaintiffs, seeks to decide what St. Francis should have known about its in-house pedophile, Dr. George Reardon, who for decades sexually abused countless children under the guise of a bogus growth study.
The second case's plaintiff, Tim Doe 1, did not testify Tuesday, although he will later in a trial that the presiding judge, Dan Shaban, says could stretch into mid-July. West Hartford police have on file pornographic photos of Doe and his sister, Maura, who did testify Tuesday, in which the siblings are posed in sexually graphic positions. In 2007, those photos were discovered with thousands of others hidden in a wall of Reardon's former West Hartford home. Reardon died in '98.
Last month's settlement came only after five weeks of excruciating testimony that included, for the jury and court officials —- although not court observers — viewing multiple pornographic photos taken by Reardon, St. Francis' chief of endocrinology.
You'd think, after a settlement, that the hospital and its primary insurance carrier, Travelers, would be loathe to go through this process again, but no. On Tuesday, the hospital's attorneys from Day Pitney law office made the same arguments —– Reardon was a monster! How could the hospital have known! —- and promised to call witnesses from the first trial, including a former member of the hospital research committee that offered absolutely no oversight of Reardon while he sexually abused and exploited children in the hospital's care. We'll also hear from a Wisconsin-based expert witness who in the first trial insisted that the hospital couldn't possibly have known of the pedophile in its midst (See above: No oversight), and from a Yale University doctor who in his previous testimony appeared to discount human research standards such as the Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki.
At one point Tuesday, a witness was asked by a defense attorney whether he wore seat belts when he was driven by his mother to his Reardon abuse session. That brought groans from the courtroom. I think the attorney was trying to illustrate that Reardon operated in a different time when children didn't wear seat belts, and doctors weren't supposed to masturbate their young patients. But then, that latter expectation remains in place today. No matter the decade, we go to hospitals to be healed, not exploited. Surely St. Francis knew that.
For God's sake — and your own, St. Francis — don't drag this family and the families of other victims through more weeks of pain. Do the right thing. Settle.