Plaintiff in Second Reardon Trial Declares Outcome: ‘A Win-Win for Me’
July 10, 2011
Hartford Courant, Susan Campbell
July 20, 2011
As he stood in Waterbury Superior Courtroom 3B waiting for the verdict in the second St. Francis Hospital child sex abuse trial earlier this month, plaintiff Tim Doe 1 didn’t feel butterflies, anticipation or hope.
Instead, he felt this: “If we lose, we lose.”
But Doe didn’t lose. A six-member jury granted a $2.75 million award to Doe, yet another member of the large and unhappy Doe/Roe family, the pseudonym of choice for victims of George E. Reardon, St. Francis’s former head of endocrinology. For decades, Reardon used a bogus growth study to lure countless children and adolescents into his office, where he sexually abused and exploited them.
Doe remembers four occasions when he was abused by Reardon, starting in 1969 when he was 9. During one session, Doe was hospitalized with rheumatic fever. He would have been about 11 then. The family was introduced to Reardon through a family friend, also a doctor.
Reardon died in ’98. A stash of pornographic slides and photos was found in his former West Hartford home in ’07. Among those slides were some that Reardon had taken of Doe and his sister — who also testified at the trial — whom he’d arranged in pornographic poses. Doe’s sister does not remember much about that session, but at the trial she talked about her strained relationship with her brother, and traced that back to Reardon. She said when she looks at Doe, she sees her brother, but when he looks at her, he remembers those poses. Doe agreed, and he also testified that he also suffers from depression, anxiety and difficulty concentrating. The abuse helped end his marriage.
This is the second in what promises to be a series of trials in which St. Francis seeks to defend its action — or inaction — in detecting Reardon’s criminal acts, which, from testimony from both trials, he appears to have committed without supervision. Tim Doe 1 was represented by Douglas P. Mahoney, of Tremont Sheldon in Bridgeport. Sixty-some cases remain, and the next trial is set to begin in September, unless the hospital and its main insurance carrier, The Travelers, decide to settle.
There’s no indication that they will.
As impossible as it might sound, Doe says he tried to watch his 31/2-week trial dispassionately. Waiting in court the day after closing arguments, Doe had just picked up his phone to step outside to make a call when he was told the decision was imminent. Without getting into detail, he’d told the people at his office that a family issue would keep him away for a month or so, and his workplace was supportive, he said. He’d kept up as much as possible, working evenings.
At the announcement, Doe said: “I just felt this guilt leave me. I never even realized I had that, those shameful feelings, the guilt. I felt these six people had heard everything, heard both sides of it, and the other side went at it as hard as they could, but these six people from different places, different ages — I wasn’t looking to be validated but when they said yes, something came off of me that I didn’t even know was there.”
“This was a win-win for me. As hard as it was to bring it out with my parents, and as hard as it was to discuss with my brothers and sister, it may have helped them understand me a little more. I could never unlock that.”
That evening, people encouraged him to celebrate with a big dinner, but Doe said he wanted only to go pick up his children, take them for ice cream and tell them he loved them. And then he went to bed and slept for hours.
On Monday, the defense filed a motion to dismiss the verdict. There’ll be more reviews, and there’s talk of an appeal, but Doe’s moving ahead. “When this happens, you bury it. You suck it up, but this has unraveled a lot of things for me. My work is just beginning,” he said.