Hospital Abuse: Reardon Case


Jury Awards $2.75 Million Dollars to Sex Abuse Victim of Dr. George Reardon of St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, Connecticut

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Few legal cases have garnered as much Connecticut media attention as the case against Dr. George Reardon, a physician at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford, who sexually abused countless children. Dr. Reardon practiced medicine as an endocrinologist at St. Francis Hospital for almost 40 years. Over the course of his career, hundreds of children were seen in his offices to participate in what Dr. Reardon described to be a growth study. It was only in 2007 that Dr. Reardon's growth study was discovered to actually be a cover up for a massive child pornography enterprise.

Dr. Reardon's story begins in 1963 when he was first hired to work at St. Francis Hospital. The 1960s were a busy time for hospitals that were trying to develop medical research departments. St. Francis hired the young Dr. Reardon to work at and head up its endocrinology department. Almost immediately children began arriving at Dr. Reardon's office. Parents were promised by Dr. Reardon that their children would be benefiting society by participating in a growth study. As part of the growth study Dr. Reardon would have to disrobe the children and then photograph and measure all of their body parts, including their genitals. St. Francis purchased large quantities of film for Dr. Reardon as well as other photographic developing materials. By 1969, Dr. Reardon had advised the Hospital that he had collected data on several hundred children and that he was going to continue to need money to purchase additional film and photography equipment.

1969 was a very unfortunate year for our client, Tim Doe, as that was the year Tim first met Dr. Reardon. At the time Tim was 8 years of age and a neighbor had approached Tim's mother about having Tim and his older sister participate in this exciting growth study being conducted by St. Francis Hospital and Dr. Reardon. Tim's family had always been supporters of the Hospital and trusted that their kids would be safe while at St. Francis. Tim's mom agreed to let Tim and his sister participate and she brought them to St. Francis Hospital. She met with Dr. Reardon and he assured her that the children would be fine. Tim's mom never knew that the children would be disrobed or photographed; that fact alone would have raised a red flag in her mind. However, no one at the Hospital told her what was going to occur.

After Tim's mom left, Dr. Reardon sexually abused both Tim and his sister at the same time. However, merely abusing the children was not enough for Dr. Reardon. Reardon actually photographed Tim and his sister while he abused them. Tragically, there were more episodes of abuse for Tim to come as Dr. Reardon told Tim's mother that Tim would have to continue to be followed over the next couple of years. On those subsequent occasions Tim was abused as well.

Being sexually abused by Dr. Reardon forever changed Tim's life. Tim has never been able to have a normal relationship with his sister. Although he is very close with his other siblings, Tim and his sister have never had much of a relationship together. Every time Tim looks at his sister he is reminded of what Dr. Reardon did to the two of them.

Tim's life was affected in so many other ways as well. The abuse caused him enormous difficulty having a normal relationship with his wife. It caused him to suffer from depression and anxiety, all symptoms which are very common for people who were sexually abused as children. He struggled with feelings of embarrassment, shame and self-doubt. The abuse pervades every aspect of his life. For many years he has required medication to treat his conditions.

However, Tim is not a quitter. He works. He provides for his children. All who know him agree that he is a terrific guy. Those that speak to him have no idea how badly he is suffering, as he appears on the outside to be a happy, go lucky person.

Other than sharing his story with his brother and some mental health professionals, Tim never told anyone about the abuse. He was embarrassed by the abuse and he was not sure that anyone would ever believe him. This was a trusted and prominent doctor at St. Francis Hospital, after all.

That all changed in 2007 when a young family who had purchased Dr. Reardon's house in West Hartford decided to do some remodeling of the home and knocked a hole in a wall. Out of the wall poured thousands and thousands of pornographic images of children being sexually abused by Dr. Reardon at St. Francis. Contained in that cache of child pornography were the photographs of Tim and his sister being sexually abused.

The discovery of approximately 60,000 images in the wall of Dr. Reardon's former home caused an explosion of media attention. Never had there been a larger collection of child pornography in one place in the world. It was quickly learned that for many years while working at St. Francis Hospital Dr. Reardon had abused countless children. As if the discovery of thousands of photographs abused children were not enough, the West Hartford Police also found over 100 movies children being sexually abused.

For the first time Tim knew that he was not the only victim of Dr. Reardon. For all of those years he had assumed that he and his sister were the only ones that had suffered this terrible damage. The news that he was not alone gave him the courage to step forward and bring a claim against the Hospital.

In order to pursue his claim, Tim retained Tremont and Sheldon to represent him. Tremont and Sheldon has long been recognized as one of the leaders in the field of representing people who were sexually abused as children. Tim wanted to make sure that the lawyers that he hired to represent him were not only compassionate to him but were also respected and aggressive attorneys who would fight for Tim until the end. Tim hired Jason Tremont and Doug Mahoney to pursue his claim. Over one hundred other people filed lawsuits against the Hospital. However, Tim's case was the first to actually go to verdict and it paved the road for the other victims of Dr. Reardon.

Jury selection in Tim's case began on May 24, 2011. Due to the sensitive issues in Tim's case and the enormous media attention attached to it, it took far longer to pick the jury. Opening statements and evidence in Tim's case began on June 14, 2011. At trial, Tim was represented by Douglas Mahoney of our office. The Hospital in turn hired Connecticut's largest law firm to represent it at the time of trial.

The trial was fiercely contested. The Hospital used every resource it could to win the case. The Hospital had two attorneys and a paralegal attend the entire trial but also had many other attorneys and staff back at their Hartford office filing briefs and motions during the course of the trial.

Mr. Mahoney and Tim fought back strongly, however. First, experts were brought in to testify on behalf of Tim. Those experts included a hospital administrator from Los Angeles, California to testify as to as to what the obligations were of St. Francis Hospital in its supervision of Dr. Reardon. Another expert was the world's leading pediatric endocrinologist who works at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. This endocrinologist testified that exams of children should not take more than 10 minutes, never mind the more than two hours that Dr. Reardon would spend with the children. She also testified that chaperones should be required whenever taking photographs of the genitalia of children.

To prove how badly Tim was damaged two experts were used. First, Tim's internal medicine doctor testified as to the treatment that he has been rendering to Tim for the past 15 years for depression and anxiety. In response to Mr. Mahoney's questions, he explained the various medications that he has Tim on to help him get through the day. Secondly, one of the country's leading experts on sexual abuse of children was brought in to testify on behalf of Tim. This doctor, who is a professor at Yale Medical School, explained to the jury how devastating sexual abuse as a child can be on a person's entire life.

Relying on experts was not enough, however. Mr. Mahoney and Tim also brought in many fact witnesses to prove the liability of the Hospital. Perhaps the most damaging testimony came though Dr. Reardon's own secretary. By going through thousands of pages of documents Mr. Mahoney was able to identify a number of purchases that the Hospital had made for Dr. Reardon during the late 1960's and early 1970's. Those purchases included books with titles such as "The Juvenile Homosexual Experience" and "The Erotic Minute". Other book purchases made by the hospital would raise eyebrows as well. In addition, Mr. Mahoney was able to identify an entry in the Hospital financial records for the purchase of a movie camera which was a very expensive piece of equipment. Nobody could ever explain why Dr. Reardon, as an endocrinologist, needed a movie camera.

The Hospital fought back strongly. They had doctors and staff at St. Francis Hospital testify that Dr. Reardon was a great guy to whom they referred their wives and children for treatment. They argued that nobody had any idea that Dr. Reardon was the evil man that he was. Also, the Hospital hired an expert witness who studies sex offenders. This expert testified that there was no way that anyone was going to be able to detect that Dr. Reardon was a pedophile.

The trial finished on July 8, 2011. After almost 2 months of hard work, and four hours of deliberation, the jury entered the court room to render its decision. The jury found in favor of Tim on all counts and entered a verdict in his favor in the amount of 2.75 million dollars. This verdict is believed to be the highest verdict in the history of the State of Connecticut against an institution for a person who had been sexually abused while a child.

Everybody at Tremont and Sheldon wishes not only to congratulate Tim but also to honor him. By being the first victim of Dr. Reardon to go to verdict, Tim has paved the road for so many other victims of this evil man. But really, Tim's verdict provides a great service to all victims of sexual abuse. Tim has sent a message to all types of institutions - be they hospitals, schools, family or friends - that if you sexually abuse a child or allow somebody else to sexually abuse a child, you can be held responsible. Tim and the jury which heard his case have made the world safer for our children. For that, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.


Related Reardon Case Links


Common Questions About Hospital Abuse - Reardon Case

I do not want my identity revealed. Is there a way that I can file a claim and remain anonymous?

You can ask permission from the Court to file your case under a pseudonym (e.g., Jane Doe or John Doe). It is up to the judge to grant or deny your request.

 


If there is a criminal case presently pending against the perpetrator, can I still file a civil suit?

 

Yes. The two cases can proceed at the same time, but there may be reasons to wait, if possible, until the criminal case has concluded.

 


What is the difference between criminal and civil cases? Is there a different burden of proof?

Many people know that the burden of proof (or evidence needed to prove the case) in a criminal case is beyond a reasonable doubt. Criminal cases require a very high standard because being found guilty of a crime is at stake as well as the potential to go to jail. In a civil case, no one is accused of a crime and cannot be found guilty. Instead, the question in a civil case is whether a person was negligent and responsible for damages to another. The burden of proof in a civil case, for example a motor vehicle accident, is lower (easier to prove) than in a criminal case. The standard is “more likely than not” the person was at fault or proof of just over 50% to win the case.

 


What is the statute of limitations with regard to filing a sexual abuse claim?

Under current Connecticut law, any person who claims damages as a result of being sexually abused, sexually assaulted, or sexually exploited as a child has until 30 years past the age of majority (typically until age 48) in which to file a claim in court. However, if you claim damages as a result of being sexually assaulted as an adult, then you have a much shorter time period in which to file a lawsuit. Typically you have three years from the date of the assault to file against the perpetrator for his or her intentional acts and two years from the date of the assault to file against any other person or entity (e.g., perpetrator's employer) who may have been negligent in allowing the perpetrator to have contact with you.


Who are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse?

Under Connecticut law, the following people are mandated reporters of suspected child abuse: doctors, nurses, medical examiners, dentists, dental hygienists, psychologists, coaches, school teachers, school principals, school guidance counselors, school paraprofessionals, social workers, police officers, juvenile or adult probation and /or parole officers, members of the clergy, pharmacists, physical therapists, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, mental health professionals, physician’s assistants, certified EMT providers, certified drug and alcohol counselors, licensed marital and family therapists, sexual assault and/or battered women’s counselors, paid child care providers in public or private facilities, child day care centers, licensed group and /or family day care centers, employees of the Department of Children and Families or the Department of Public Health if responsible for licensing day care centers homes or youth camps or the Office of Child Advocate and the Child Advocate.

Any person so identified who in the course of his or her employment or profession has reasonable cause to believe or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected or has been inflicted with nonaccidental injuries or is at imminent risk of serious harm must report or cause a report to be made in accordance with state law. Violation of the law will result in a monetary fine and required participation in an educational and training program. See Connecticut General Statutes Sections 17-101(b); 17a-101a.


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