More than 20 men are suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich, alleging years of sexual abuse at the former Mount Saint John School in Deep River.
The 20 legal complaints, filed Wednesday at New London Superior Court, allege abuse by a number of clergy and staff members that the men say occurred repeatedly over a period of approximately 14 years in the mid-1980s through 2000.
All of the lawsuits are filed under pseudonyms to protect the identities of the complainants, who were between the ages of 10 and 15 when abuses began, according to the documents.
At the time, Mount Saint John School was a boarding school for at-risk children, and all of the plaintiffs said they were placed there by the state Department of Children and Families or through a court order, according the lawsuits.
The majority of the lawsuits claim abuse at the hands of Brother Paul McGlade, who served as the school’s executive director, as well as Brother Donald Paschal Alford, who worked as McGlade’s assistant. Both have since died.
Several of the complaints allege abuse by other male and female members of the school staff.
A number of the incidents detailed in the complaints took place during the course of altar boy duties, or in private music lessons or meetings. Some complainants said they were offered gifts or privileges, such as food or field trips, in return for their compliance.
Patrick Tomasiewicz, the attorney representing the complainants, said the lawsuits are an effort by the men to shine light on avoidable abuse. A number of the of the complaints detailed efforts by the children to report incidents to staff, parents, and DCF, that were ignored.
The men come from diverse backgrounds, but have dysfunctional families in common, he said. Some had suffered sexual abuse prior to being placed at Mount Saint John, according to the complaints.
“These were young boys that were placed there by the state, so they were fragile and already came from broken homes,” Tomasiewicz said.
Tomasiewicz also represents three men who filed separate lawsuits in 2014 and 2017 alleging similar abuse at Mount Saint John in the same time period.
“They’re all broken wings and they’ve suffered greatly,” he said.
A spokesperson for DCF said the department no longer has a relationship with the school, which now operates as the Connecticut Transition Academy. The Diocese of Norwich continues to have a hand in operating the school. The academy serves children with special needs who are referred by their parents, guardians or local school districts, according to its website.
NBC Connecticut reached out to the school and the Diocese for comment but did not receive any response.
It may be years before there is a resolution to the lawsuits. Jury selection for the first lawsuit filed in 2014 is currently scheduled for September of next year.