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By Sue Smith
Justice and Validation
The cases of more than 100 courageous victims were litigated from 2007 through 2012. One case was appealed by Saint Francis Hospital and resulted in a decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court in July of 2013. The opinion in Doe v. Saint Francis Hospital spells out in detail the failings of the Hospital over decades -- ignoring rules, failing to enforce protocols, and ignoring warning signals. The decision contains two rulings of significance for victims.
First, the Court rebuffed an attempt by the Hospital to make cases more difficult for victims by requiring that the victims prove that the Hospital knew that Dr. Reardon was a pedophile or child molester. Given the way that child abusers operate, this requirement would be difficult, if not impossible, for victims to demonstrate. The Court stated that a lesser standard of proof was required which relied upon the Hospital's awareness of a number of circumstances that should have alerted it to the risk of harm to children.
Second, the Court endorsed the concept advanced by the Plaintiffs that there is a special duty of protection that was owed to the Plaintiffs due to the fact that they were in the custody of the Hospital. The Court rejected the Hospital's argument that the duty did not exist because the criminal acts of Dr. Reardon were outside the scope of his employment.
These rulings are significant and will be helpful to victims in the future, especially given the care to which the Court articulated important legal concepts that are applicable to sexual abuse cases.
The Story of the Pictures
When I represented a number of Dr. Reardon's victims during the 90's and early 2000's, the question always was "Where are the pictures?" We knew that Dr. Reardon was taking hundreds of pornographic pictures of his victims in his office at Saint Francis Hospital as a part of his particular brand of abuse plus exploitation. So I was not surprised when someone ran up to me in the court house on November 28, 2007 to tell me the news. "So, they were in the house after all," was my response. It turned out that there were 60,000 slides and 100 videos hidden in a false wall in the basement. Investigators estimate that the pictures reflect at least 500 victims.
More than 100 victims came forward after the discovery of the pictures in 2007 and brought suits against Saint Francis Hospital. The cases were tried or settled by 2012.
I had talked to dozens of Dr. Reardon's victims in the past and now have spoken to dozens more. One thing never changes: the way childhood sexual abuse alters the course of a victim's life. So many adults who are limited by closed down emotions. So many lives that never met expectations. So many impaired by anger or addiction. So many haunted by shame. A common thread prevails: now they can tell their story because they will be believed. The pictures have done that for them. The pictures now say what they could never muster the courage to say: Dr. Reardon was a monster.
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