New lawsuits filed in the case of alleged child molester George Reardon include accusations that the West Hartford endocrinologist threatened his victims with a gun, rewarded them with cash and molested four brothers in the same family.
The lawsuits, which allege that St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford was negligent in its supervision and control of Reardon, also include what is believed to be the first lawsuit in the Reardon case filed against the hospital by a woman.
The latest suits bring to a dozen the number of adults who claim the hospital shares responsibility for Reardon's actions during the 1970s and '80s, when he allegedly fondled children and photographed them naked in his St. Francis office under the guise of conducting research into human growth and development.
Most of the claims made by alleged victims so far have been remarkably similar. In almost every case, Reardon, who died in 1998, is accused of bringing a child between the ages of 8 and 15 into his private office at St. Francis. He locked the door, told the children to undress, often fondled them to the point of sexual arousal and photographed them in sexual positions for hours at a time, the lawsuits claim.
But in the lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of one woman and four men, lawyers also claim that "Reardon would intimidate the minor plaintiff by revealing or brandishing a concealed firearm he carried."
He also rewarded the children with cash, trips to the Hartford Gun Club, and "trips to remote locations where he would engage in lewd and lascivious behavior with minors," the lawsuit claims.
Of the five plaintiffs, three met Reardon as patients and two were recruited to participate in purported growth and development studies. The woman, identified in the suit only as Jane Doe, claims that in his St. Francis office Reardon "assaulted the plaintiff by fondling her genitals under threat and intimidation, [and] forced her to remain naked for a prolonged period of time so Reardon could obtain sexual gratification."
Paul T. Edwards, a lawyer with Stratton Faxon in New Haven, a law firm which also handled lawsuits against the Catholic Church in the sex abuse scandal involving priests, said in addition to the lawsuits filed Monday and one filed last week, his firm expects to file at least two more suits this week on behalf of at least a dozen more people.
Another lawsuit, filed Friday on behalf of four brothers from West Hartford, accuses St. Francis of reckless assault and battery, negligent assault and battery, and civil conspiracy. The brothers met Reardon while they were his patients, according to Kenneth J. Laska, a Plainville attorney representing the brothers.
"We are stating that the doctor and the hospital withheld information," Laska said. "They should have known what was going on."
Officials at St. Francis said Monday they had not yet seen the lawsuits and were not able to comment. The hospital has previously said that officials knew that Reardon was taking pictures of patients, but believed they were being used for legitimate purposes.
St. Francis has also expressed its sympathy for the alleged victims, offered to help alleged victims get counseling, and offered to assist West Hartford police in their criminal investigation.
The lawsuits follow the recent announcement by West Hartford police that a homeowner renovating his basement had discovered a stash of pornographic slides and 8mm films hidden in a false wall. Police traced the images to Reardon, who owned the house on Griswold Drive until his death.
In 1993, state health authorities responding to molestation complaints from a handful of male and female former patients, moved to revoke Reardon's license to practice medicine. The case ended when Reardon agreed to relinquish his license and retire from St. Francis.
A few other former patients who also claimed to have been victimized subsequently sued Reardon's estate and won modest settlements.
Since the discovery of an estimated 50,000 pornographic images in the basement, the West Hartford Police Department and lawyers have fielded dozens of calls from adults, most now in their 40s, who claim to have been abused by the doctor when they were children.
Contact Hilary Waldman at email@example.com.