HARTFORD, CT (AP / CBSNewYork) – A hospital on Monday settled lawsuits with 32 people who say they were sexually abused by a prominent, now-dead doctor believed to have molested scores of children over three decades with a bogus human growth study.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau: A Jury Already Heard The Case

The deal between the plaintiffs and St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford came during the middle of jury deliberations in the first of more than 90 lawsuits involving the late Dr. George Reardon to go to trial. Terms of the settlements were not disclosed.

The hospital was accused of failing to properly monitor Reardon, who died in 1998 without ever facing criminal charges.

The abuse was revealed in 2007 when the owner of Reardon’s former home in West Hartford opened a basement wall during a renovation project and found tens of thousands of slides and videos showing children in sexual acts and positions.

Police have identified 250 of Reardon’s victims by name, but hundreds of other children in the pornographic images never came forward. Investigators believe Reardon victimized at least 500 children, but they also believe the number of victims could be in the thousands.

Police who interviewed the victims say many have struggled with broken relationships, substance-abuse problems, even suicide attempts.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Joel Faxon, said in a statement that his clients were pleased with the settlement and “happy to put this painful chapter of their lives behind them.” He said the settlement comes after “four years of legal proceedings, five weeks of heart-wrenching testimony and two days of jury deliberation.”

The plaintiff in the first case, known only as John Doe No. 2, was seeking up to $8 million in damages against the hospital, where Reardon rose to chief of endocrinology during his three decades there.

Officials at the hospital had denied any responsibility for Reardon’s actions.

“We believe that we have proven that Dr. Reardon was a master manipulator who deceived his patients, their parents and his colleagues,” the hospital said in a statement. “We are prepared to prove that again in court, as necessary.”

Lawyers say jury selection for the next trial is expected to begin May 24.

Another attorney for Reardon’s victims, Timothy O’Keefe, criticized St. Francis for taking the first case to trial in Waterbury Superior Court and then settling.

“We think it is disgraceful that the hospital and its insurers forced the plaintiff and several other victims to testify publicly about their experiences of being sexually abused and exploited at the hospital before presenting a fair potential resolution of this claim,” O’Keefe said.

The abuse began in the 1950s, when Reardon was a young doctor in Albany, N.Y., and continued in Connecticut through the 1980s, authorities say. He resigned in 1993 amid molestation accusations, but he was never charged. In 1995, he was prohibited from practicing medicine in Connecticut or any other state.

The officers who sifted through the photographs describe heartbreaking images: Children posed in the nude, often in sexually suggestive poses or with objects inserted into their bodies. Some claim Reardon forced them to simulate sex acts with other children and manipulated their genitalia.

The victims came from across Connecticut’s capital area through referrals, but they were concentrated in the affluent suburb of West Hartford.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (2)
  1. Georgia T. Fisher says:

    Looks like he worked for the devil—not a hospital—I’m sure he holds his licence in HELL….ST. Francis,huh—The Teaching Hospital? Looks like the Administration had their heads-up-their-buts,BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE THE ONLY WAY THEY COULDN’T SEE OR HEAR ANYTHING!!!!!!!!!! Killing a Childs Spirit and Soul. I hope the Good Lord gives “the hospital” The Justice it Deserves. I am a survivor of Childhood Incest, both of my parents,injured me, “mom” drugged me “dad” raped me in good old Hartford, CT. for years, My extended family thought and still thinks that Ada and Walter’s daughter,Peggy, is just CRAZY. Well I changed my name,legally,got years of THERAPY, and moved to Kentucky,8/2004. My therapist here,in KY. say’s I’m the sane one in my family, and that my parents were evil–gives me the creeps to even think of that word. Wanted to read about Hartford today and what a bunch of PAIN Engulfed me; it’s hard to think straight………… I’ve WORKED-HARD to forgive, because The Good Lord has given me The Grace and Strength to. My parents were very ill, and Deceptive and liked by many people. Tell your story. Name names. Go get Therapy. Cry. Forgiveness comes in time, but only if “you” want to get well and be happy. Please don’t kill your-self. Please don’t harm any-one else. Get the legal system on your side. Go or call the Police. GOD will not get you no matter what your abuser(s) say. God will give you the Grace and Strength to become a Survivor too.

  2. doc in NJ says:

    first, do no harm.

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