A former member of the Legionaries of Christ has filed a lawsuit against the Cheshire-based religious group, claiming that when he was 12 years old he was molested by its leader, Marcial Maciel Degollado.
The civil lawsuit, filed in Waterbury Superior Court last week by New Haven attorney Joel Faxon, refers to the victim as John Roe and alleges that he was molested not only by Maciel but also by two other priests, Father Luis Garza, the former head of the North American chapter of the Legionaries, and Father Jose Sabin.
The lawsuit said John Roe enrolled in a Legionaries seminary school in 1989 when he was 12 and was supposed to attend a school in New Hampshire but instead ended up in a school the group ran in Mexico.
Beginning in about 1990 or 1991, John Roe was sexually assaulted on multiple separate occasions by Maciel, Garza and Sabin, the lawsuit alleges.
“These priests engaged in unpermitted, harmful and offensive sexual contact upon the person of Plaintiff. The sexual contact and/or acts constituted or would have constituted criminal conduct,” Faxon wrote in the suit.
The boy fled the campus and eventually made his way back to California, where his mother was living at that time, the suit says.
John Roe reported the alleged abuse to officials from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, both in writing and verbally, and in 2014 he reported the abuse directly to Legionnaire officials, but he never received a response from anyone, the lawsuit says.
“They knew or should have known that there was a specific danger of child sex abuse for children participating in their youth programs,” Faxon wrote. “By accepting Plaintiff into their residential facility and transporting him into a foreign country isolated from his parents, Defendants solicited, accepted and owed the highest possible duty to care for the minor Plaintiff.”
The lawsuit says Roe still suffers the effects of the sexual assaults, including post traumatic stress and depression and will continue to incur expenses for medical and psychological treatment.
He is seeking more than $15,000 in damages.
The Legionaries North American headquarters are in Cheshire. The group was founded by Maciel in Mexico in 1941.
Maciel was the subject of a 2006 investigation by the Vatican into allegations that he sexually assaulted numerous children and even may have had a child. Maciel died in 2008, but not before some of the sexual assault allegations were confirmed.