The case of alleged child molester George Reardon took a new twist Tuesday with an accusation in a lawsuit that the late West Hartford endocrinologist raped a young boy — the first such claim to surface publicly.
The rape allegation is included in the fifth lawsuit filed against St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center over the past two weeks. The suits accuse the hospital of negligence in its supervision and control of Reardon, who practiced at the hospital from 1963 to 1993.
"Reardon repeatedly anally raped the plaintiff against his will, filmed the plaintiff and otherwise abused him," papers filed Tuesday in Superior Court in Hartford say.
The lawsuit includes accusations from four other men and one woman that Reardon fondled and photographed them in his St. Francis office in Hartford, either when they were his private patients or were participants in his so-called growth studies.
The woman, identified as Jane Doe, is one of at least three alleged victims who have reported being photographed in sexual positions with siblings or other children. Reardon took the plaintiff to his office at St, Francis and required her to "maintain a sexual position hovering over the genitals of [her] sibling," the lawsuit says.
Tuesday's lawsuit brings to 18 the number of adults who have filed legal claims saying the hospital shares responsibility for abuse by Reardon during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Some allege that Reardon intimidated child victims with a concealed gun and plied them with cash and other incentives. None of the plaintiffs has been named publicly.
Many of the alleged victims were children brought to Reardon's office for treatment, but others who have filed suit say they were the siblings of Reardon's patients, recruited ostensibly to participate in medical research on childhood growth and development. Other alleged victims came from outside the hospital.
The lawsuits allege a pattern of abuse that began before Reardon started working at St. Francis and continued until state health authorities, responding to molestation complaints from a handful of male and female patients, moved to revoke Reardon's medical license in 1993. The case ended when Reardon agreed to relinquish his license and retire from St. Francis.
Many of the alleged victims have told similar stories. They reported being locked in Reardon's office without a parent or a nurse present. A few have said Reardon took them to his office in wheelchairs from inpatient units after hours. Others have said Reardon picked them up at their homes on weekends and took them to St. Francis.
Most say he asked them to undress, often fondled them to the point of sexual arousal and photographed them in suggestive poses for hours at a time.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs who say they were recruited to participate in clinical studies at St. Francis contend that in addition to failing to supervise Reardon, the hospital violated a fundamental tenet of medical ethics by not ensuring that participants or their parents signed consent forms before joining the so-called studies.
St. Francis officials have said the hospital was under the impression that Reardon was conducting a legitimate practice and had no idea of any wrongdoing.
"The newest revelations are shocking and, as we've said before, our hearts go out to each and every victim," said Barry Feldman, general counsel and senior vice president at St. Francis.
St. Francis, which has offered to help the alleged victims get counseling, is hoping to reach a quick and fair conclusion to the legal actions in the Reardon matter, Feldman said.
The lawsuits follow the recent announcement by West Hartford police that a homeowner renovating Reardon's former home on Griswold Drive had discovered a stash of pornographic slides and 8mm films hidden in a false wall in the basement.
Reardon died in 1998, but the discovery of the long lost photographic evidence of abuse, combined with an extension of the statute of limitations that allows victims of childhood molestation to file civil lawsuits at least until they reach the age of 48, regardless of when the abuse occurred, has prompted the new lawsuits.
Although a few past victims sued Reardon's estate and won modest settlements after his death, the recently filed lawsuits mark the first time St. Francis has been named in any legal action related to Reardon's activity in the hospital.
Contact Hilary Waldman at email@example.com.
For photos, video and more stories on the Reardon case, visit www.courant.com/reardon.