Bruno F. Primavera
Bruno Franklin Primavera
American-born priest, Archdiocese of Toronto. Ordained 1973. Affiliated with St. Michael’s Boys Choir School in the 70s. In 1979 transferred to the Diocese of Norwich Connecticut. A note from Toronto’s Auxiliary Bishop Thoma B. Fulton to the Bishop Daniel Reilly read in part that Prinavera had a “tendency to seek out the companionship of young teenage boys on a one¬to-one basis,” and “In one instance, although no public scandal resulted, his conduct was such that it was found advisable to transfer him to another parish.” Spent time in treatment at both Southdown and the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico. There are also reports that Primavera received counselling from a “Catholic psychiatrist” who advised that he be sent elsewhere. Two lawsuits settled related to sex abuse of boys in Diocese of Norwich. CONVICTED for sex abuse of students at the New Mexico Military Institute in New Mexico.
(Click image to enlarge)
Archbishops of Toronto Archdiocese from time of Father Primavera’s ordination: Philip Francis Pocock (30 March 1971 – 29 April 1978); Gerald Emmett Carter (29 April 1978 – 17 March 1990) ; Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic (17 March 1990 – – 16 December 2006 )
Auxiliary Bishops of Toronto from time of Father Primavera’s ordination: Francis Valentine Allen (02 July 1954 – 07 October 1977) ; Francis Anthony Marrocco (01 Dec 1955 – 10 June 1968); Thomas Benjamin Fulton (28 December 1968-August 1978;) Aloysius Matthew Ambrozic (26 March 1976 – Coadjutor Archbishop: 22 May 1986); Michael Pearse Lacey (03 May 1979 – 31 May 1993); Robert Bell Clune (03 May 1979 to 27 December 1995); Leonard James Wall (03 May 1979 — 25 February 1992); John Stephen Knight (27 Apr 1992 – 9 Apr 2000); Anthony Giroux Meagher † (30 April 1997 – 27 Apr il2002) Nicola de Angelis, C.F.I.C. (Auxiliary Bishop: 27 April 1992 to 28 December 2002);: Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. ( 22 February 1995 – 30 June 1998);
Documents of Interest
22 March 1990: Toronto Aux. Bishop Leonard Wall to Las Cruces New Mexico Bishop Ricardo Ramirez csb re prior phone calls with Bishop and Las Cruces lawyer (regarding “conduct” of Father Primavera and possible legal action against the Archdiocese)
28 April 1978: Norwich Diocese’s Bishop Daniel Reilly letter to Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Fulton re accepting Primavera on probation (Diocese of incardination to remain Toronto for duration of probation – decision to incardinate in Norwich Diocese to be decided after probation period)
03 February 1978: Archdiocese of Toronto Aux. Bishop Thomas Fulton letter to Norwich Diocese Bishop Daniel Reilly (Archbishop Pocock and Bishop Fulton grant Primavera’s request to minister in another diocese, this despite reference to the “two areas of concern” re Father Primavera)
11 January 1978: Father Paul Loverde of Norwich Diocese letter to Archdiocese of Toronto’s Father Primavera (Primavera to obtain written permission from Abp. Pocock and supply three names as references)
20 December 1977: Father Paul Loverde to Father Bruno Primavera (Invitation for interview with Norwich Diocese Board of Vicars of Priests in Connecticut )
November 1977: Father Bruno Primavera letter to Bishop Daniel Reilly (Bishop of Norwich Diocese, CT) (Undated letter, but would have been written in November ’77 – references father’s death and asks if he can serve in Norwich Diocese)
28 February 2012: BLOG “although no public scandal resulted…”
?: Record $2M Deal Reached in Priest Sex Case (Attorney Robert I, Reardon, Jr.)
The following information is drawn from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, media (M) documents (D) and inforation which I have attained personally (P)
17 January 2006: died in Bridgeport, Connecticut (Bruno Franklin Primavera Obituary)
employed as Program Director of Recovery House, New Haven, Connecticut (P)
2002: lawsuit filed by Michael Nelligan alleging abuse at at St. Mark the Evangelist in Westbrook from 1977 to 1978 commencing when he was 14 (M)
allegedly left the priesthood – date unknown, but he was out by 2003 (M)
– living in Windsor Connecticut
1994, 1993: not listed in CCCD
date unknown: after jail spent six months as an in-patient with the Servants of the Paraclete in Hartford, Connecticut
1992, 1991: P.O. Box 8034, Roswell, New Mexico. (still shown as incardinated in Archdiocese of Toronto) (CCCD)
I think this must have been when he was in jail following conviction?
06 April 1990: Letter to Bishop Reilly (Norwich Diocese CT) from Father Edward Boehler (Toronto Archdiocese) advising that Father Primavera has been charged in La Cruces New Mexico “with several charges of sexual contact with minors, contributing to delinquency and possession of marijuana.” Boehler also advises that the Archdiocese of Toronto has stripped Primavera of his faculties to hear Confessions and is not to celebrate Mass publicly, and that he is advising Bishop Reilly of the situation “in case he should turn up [in the Norwich Diocese] and be a cause of any embarrassment in the future.” (D)
the sex-related charges related to offences with young males who lived in Rosewell. There were also pictures involved.
22 March 1990: Toronto’s Auxiliary Bishop Leonard Wall letter to Bishop Ricardo Ramirez csb (La Cruces, New Mexico) fulfilling promise to Las Cruces Diocese solicitor to provide information regarding Father Primavera. Bishop Wall closes with a promise of co-operation and “prayers that this matter can be resolved without either injustice to those who may have suffered or a scandal taken by anyone relative tot he Church.” (Father Primavera was then known to be in trouble in trouble for sexual contact with minors and possession of marijuana)
12 March 1990: Bishop Ricardo Ramirez csb (Las Cruces New Mexico) phonecall to the Chancellor of Toronto Archdiocese alerting to “problems attendant upon the conduct of Father Bruno Primavera and the possibility of action being taken against the Archdiocese among others.” (D)
1988: Chaplain at New Mexico Military Institute in Rosewell, New Mexico. According to Wikipedia the school is a military junior college with a four-year high school and a two-year junior college. (Diocese of Las Cruces New Mexico)
– also assisted at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church in Roswell while lving and teaching in Rosewell (Diocese of Las Cruces New Mexico)
November 1987: Letters of Permission from the Archdiocese of Toronto for Father Primavera’s application to the New Jersey National Guard as Chaplain (D)
– reference in diocesan correspondence to Primavera’s “misdemeanors in terms of substantial embezzlement in New York” (D)
Approx. 1984-1986: Iona Preparatory Academy, an all-boys Catholic school in New Rochelle, New York (Archdiocese of New York) The college was run by the Irish Christian Brothers.
1985: recommendation that he continue psychotherapy with a Dr. H. Allen in the States (D)
1985-86: address in CCCD shown as “USA.” Still shown as incardinated in the Archdiocese of Toronto (CCCD)
1984: residing at Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, New Rochelle, New York (D)
Approx. 1983- 1984: Chaplain, St. Joseph High School, Lowell, Massachussetts (Archdiocese of Boston)
December 1981 or 1982: returned to the States (D and P) Taken in by Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut and assisting at St. Adalbert’s in Enfield
30 June 1981: Was he teaching in Toronto after his Southdown stay? or, was he planning to teach? If neither, why was there action of some sort with the Ontario College of Teachers on this date and to run for one year? Can anyone help to clarify this?
February 1980: Primavera was sent back to Toronto after only months in New London for “less than satisfactory performance” (M)
March and April 1980 and possibly longer: at Southdown for treatment. He was definitely gone from Southdown by July 1980 (M)
1980: “removed from ministry” in Diocese of Norwich, date unknown
1980 (?) : transferred to St. Mary Star of the Sea in New London Connecticut after the sex abuse allegations at Westbrook (M)
– Leader with the St. Mary’s Catholic Youth Organization (M)
molested a 15-year-old boy in the rectory (M) The boy met the priest at the youth organization. The boys told his parents Bishop Reilly was informed.
Waterford police contacted Bishop Reilly to advise they had found Primavera in a “compromising position” with teenage boys in a car (M)
(A $3.1 Million lawsuit was settled in November 2006 in relation to the allegations of sex abuse of the 15-year-old boy [M])
June 1978-September 1979: first assignment in Diocese of Norwich was assisting at St. Mark the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, Westbrook, Connecticut (M) Monsignor Finnegan Pastor.
taken into the Diocese of Norwich by Bishop Reilly, this despite a warning from Church officials in Toronto that he had financial problems and also that he tended to seek out companionship of teenage boys on a one-to-one basis and had been seeing a psychiatrist about the issue (M)
– Allegations of sex abuse of 15-year-old boy at Westbrook which Primavera denied .
Also allegations of theft. ( A $1,M lawsuit related to these allegations was settled in 2006 [M])
28 April 1978: Letter from Bishop Reilly (Norwich Diocese CT) to Bishop Thomas Fulton (Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto) advising he will accept Father Primavera into the Diocese of Norwich, but on probation in one year intervals for a period of at least three years. During this period Father Primavera will remain incardinated in the Archdiocese of Toronto – no decision regarding incardination in the Diocese of Norwich will be made until this probationary period was completed (D)
22 March 1978: in a reference letter to Bishop Reilly Father Peter Somerville, (Director of St. Michael’s Choir School), describes Father Primavera as, among other things, a priest who “showed some signs of immaturity and was “popular with the older boys” at St. Michael’s Choir School. Somerville speculates that Primavera may have left SMCS for financial reasons (the priests at the SMCS received the same wages as diocesan priests, whereas those working in schools received teacher salaries)
03 February 1978: Toronto Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Fulton advises Bishop Reilly (Norwich Diocese CT) by letter that , following discussion with Archbishop Pocock, permission is granted for Primavera to seek acceptance for ministry somewhere closer to home (D) Fulton makes reference to “two areas of concern” re Father Primavera’s conduct, those being (1) financial issues; and (2) “tendency to seek out the companionship of young boys, on a one to one basis.” (D)
11 January 1978: Father Paul Loverde letter to Father Primavera asking that Primavera obtain written permission from “”present Ordinary” to relocate and names of three persons as reference (D)
20 December 1977: Father Paul Loverde letter to Father Primavera setting interview with Vicars of Norwich Diocese for 06 January 1978
(November ?) 1977 : undated letter from Father Primavera to Bishop Daniel O Reilly, Bishop of Norwich Diocese, seeking an interview and possible placement in the diocese (D)
It seems Father Primavera’s “conduct” was such at one parish (“although no public scandal resulted”) that, according to Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Fulton, it necessitated Primavera’s transfer to another parish. Around that time began to see a Roman Catholic psychiatrist on a regular basis (D)
February 1977: Father Bruno Primevara’s father dies
November 1977: Archdiocese became aware of embezzlement and mismanagement of personal funds to the tune of $10,000. It seems the Archdiocese floated him a loan with Prmiavera promising to repay. A few payments were made and the balance was eventually written off (D)
1977: Spent a short time at St. Mary Roman Catholic Church, Brampton, Ontario. Father R Will Drake was pastor. (P)
June 1977 : at the request of the Bishop left Dante Aligheri High School and was assigned as an assistant priest in full time parish ministry in Archdiocese of Toronto (D)
during his time teaching in the Toronto Archdiocese Father Primavera was Vice-Principal, guidance Counsellor and Phys. Ed teacher and taught Religion at two schools, (D)
early 1977: Father Primavera’s father died (D)
1974-1977: Vice Principal for most if not all of those years at Dante Aligheri High School in Toronto (P)
assisting at Our Lady of Peace, Etobicoke, Ontario from about 1974-1976 (P)
molesting altar boys during his years at OLP (P)
1973- Spring 74: 83 Power St., Toronto, Ontario (CCCD) address for St. Paul’s Basilica in Toronto (Rector Father W.E. Cambray)
Mid 1974 transferred to Dante Aligheri High School in Toronto – said he was assured he would become Vice Principal at the school (D)
mid 1974: teaching English and Religion at St. Michael’s Choir School from before ordination through to mid way through 1974 (P)
18 November 1973: Father Bruno Primavera teaching at St Michael’s Choir School , Toronto
March 1973: ORDAINED by Bishop Thomas Fulton (Toronot aux.) in Amesbury, Massachusetts for the Archdiocese of Toronto (D)
Father Primavera ordained priest (Bridegeport Connecticut Post)
28 July 1972: performed the first marriage ever performed by a deacon in the Archdiocese of Toronto. The bride was a Roman Catholic marrying a Methodist. Here are quotes from the article which reported on the event in the 28 July 1972 Toronto Globe and Mail:
“In Wednesday’s Globe and Mail there was a story about deacons—Catholic clergymen who are not yet priests—being allowed to officiate at weddings for the first time in Toronto.
“Rev. Brunto Primavera performed the first marriage in the archiocese of Toronto—he has just been incardinated to Toronto from Boston. He will be ordained in September and will teach English and religion at St. Michael’s Choir School.
“I asked Mr. Primavera if he was nervous.
“‘Nervous!’ he said,. ‘I was twice as jittery as the bride and groom combined. But it went off all right and I have another to perform this Saturday….'”
(I wonder if perhaps the reporter erred in saying Primavera was to be ordained in September? He was not ordained until March the following year. I wonder if for some reason his ordination was postponed?)
1972: Incardinated into the Archdiocese of Toronto – during his diaconate year taught Religion and History at high school part of St. Michael’s Choir School in Toronto, Ontario.
1969-72: Theology, Pope John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass. with a minor in counselling (Primavera referred to the seminary as Pope John XXIII National Seminary for Delayed Vocations)
Primavera was originally to become a priest with the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut.. He told people however that he was recruited in his first year for the Archdiocese of Toronto by Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Fulton . When he decided that he would instead be ordained for the Archdiocese of Toronto the latter reimbursed the Diocese of Portland $6,700 “for their expenditures on his behalf.” (D & P)
1965-69: teacher in Connecticut Public Secondary Schools – one year in Waterford (D)
at some point in here did some teaching at St. Sebastian’s Country Day School, an all- boys Roman Catholic school in Needham, Mass – within the Archdiocese of Boston, Mass .
21 July 1968: Primavera Camp Director “Day Camp expanded”
19 May 1968: Primavera Camp Director “Teen Counselors Sought”
15 August 1968: Primavera co-direcotor: “Sterling House Closing “
26 July 1968: Camp counsellor Bruno Primavera: “Sterling House registering small frys” (M)
1967: MA (Ed. Psych), Fairfield University
24 June 1967: Scheduled wedding date – it seems the wedding did not take place
Advisor to the Junior Honour Society at Stratford high school (M)
24 July 1966: Announcement in local media of engagement of Bruno F. Primavera. Wedding set for 24 June 1967 ( Primavera engaged “Bruno F. Promavera Teacher, Fiance Of Miss Chevalier”)
1966: teaching History at Bunnell and Stratford high schools. Also working toward his MA at Fairfiled University (M)
1959-1967: Recreation counsellor with the Stratford department of Recreation (M)
28 June 1964: Primavera Playground Instructor in Stratford Connecticut
1964: BA, St, Mary’s Seminary, Baltimore
1962: Associate of Arts degree, St. Thomas Seminary, Bloomfield, CT (M)
– attended Central Connecticut State College (M)
– graduated from Stratford high school (M)
– Native of Stratford, Connecticut, USA (M)
20 March 1941: DOB (Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut)
Norwich Diocese pours millions into abuse suits
January 26, 2007 –
By GREG SMITH, Norwich Bulletin
NORWICH — For Leo Savoie of Norwich, news of another settlement in a priest molestation case by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich is disheartening.
“I’m sure it’s shaken the faith of some, but not mine,” said Savoie, a devout Catholic and longtime parishioner at the Cathedral of St. Patrick in Norwich.
Since November, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich has paid a total of $3.1 million to settle claims of molestation at the hands of visiting priest Bruno Primavera.
The latest settlement, $2 million, was the largest of its kind in the state, according to Robert I. Reardon Jr., who represented Michael Nelligan, 44, in the suit.
Nelligan, a former altar boy and member of the Catholic Youth Organization at St. Mark’s Church in Westbrook, claimed Primavera repeatedly molested him in 1978, when he was 15.
A similar suit against Primavera was settled in November, when the church paid $1.1. million to settle with Michael Long of Waterford, who claimed he was molested by Primavera at St. Mary Church in New London.
Primavera was later convicted of sexual offenses involving teenage boys when he was a teacher at New Mexico Military Institute in New Mexico. He died in February.
Reardon is involved in another pending case in which the Diocese of Norwich is a co-defendant. In that case, a former Jesuit priest serving at St. Thomas Aquinas in Storrs is accused of having a sexual relationship with an underage male student from E.O. Smith High School. Reardon also represented “John Doe” in 2003, against the Rev. Richard T. Buongirno, Bishop Daniel A. Hart and the Diocese of Norwich. A $700,000 settlement was reached in that case with Buongirno agreeing to pay $350,000 from his personal funds and the church insurance paying the rest.
Like any large organization or business, the Diocese of Norwich, which manages 78 parishes and 28 schools, was able to pay settlements using liability insurance coverage. The insurance covers all claims against the diocese and affiliated churches and organizations, said Joseph T. Sweeney, the lawyer who represented the diocese. The diocese is covered by the Catholic Mutual Group, which exclusively covers Catholic properties and represents 111 dioceses in the United States. The church maintains an account to cover what amounts to a deductible on claims, Sweeney said. The priests themselves are not covered for wrongdoing.
“This is not money coming from the collection basket or the bishop’s annual appeal. It comes from the basic operating budgets — money that the diocese has to maintain for things such as accidental falls and other claims,” he said.
In both cases, the diocese was charged with negligent supervision of Primavera.
“This is a very delicate issue,” Sweeney said. “This goes against everything these priests stand for.”
Lita LaRue, a Catholic from Norwich, said the church cannot be blamed for the conduct of individual priests.
“It’s a lot of money,” LaRue said of the settlements, “but I’m not worried about it — God will provide.”
Savoie echoed the sentiment, saying, “Priests are human like everyone else. I’m sorry this happened, but the hierarchy did nothing but conceal. They were too busy protecting the institution and not enough feeling for the victims.”
Sweeney said the settlements were compromises.
While calling the alleged conduct by Primavera “tragic” and “despicable,” Sweeney said the church had disputed many of the facts alleged in the case.
But, he said, “if a jury found the diocese was responsible, and it was a disputed issue, the value of the claim could have potentially been much higher.”
The Most Rev. Michael R. Cote, bishop of Norwich, who said he did not know Primavera, wrote a letter of apology to Michael Long’s mother in October.
“The abuse of any child by any person is intolerable,” Cote wrote. “When the abuser is a Roman Catholic priest, that abuse is an even more profound violation of God’s law, and does grave harm to every believing Catholic.
Bruno Primavera’s actions were an offense against you, your son, and God.”
Cote did not answer the Bulletin’s requests for an interview.
David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said settlements by churches help victims in a variety of ways.
“These victims have been deeply wounded,” Clohessy said. “It helps as a real acknowledgment that serious harm has been done. The unacknowledged wound never heals.”
Large settlements, Clohessy said, despite the fact the church rarely admits wrongdoing, illustrate to the victim “someone at some level has been accountable. It does help. Victims feel like they’ve done what they can to prevent future abuse.”
The financial settlements also draw public attention to the issue, he said.
Settlements in these cases are better for everyone, Reardon said, since “trials are a difficult process for everyone involved, emotional, expensive and time consuming
Case of Abuse by Priest Settled
Molested As Altar Boy, Norwich Man Will Receive $2 Million
Hartford Courant ( Connecticut)
22 January 2007
The Diocese of Norwich has settled a lawsuit arising from abuse by a priest for $2 million, the Norwich Bulletin reported Sunday.
Michael Nelligan, 44, accused the Rev. Bruno Primavera, a visiting priest in the diocese from 1978 to 1980, of molesting him while Primavera was at St. Mark’s Church in Westbrook.
Nelligan, an altar boy, was 15 at the time.
“Michael has struggled with this ordeal all his life,” said Robert Reardon, Nelligan’s New London lawyer. He said Nelligan decided to step forward when he saw others do so.
A message seeking comment was left with Nelligan at his Portland, Maine, home.
Joseph T. Sweeney, a lawyer who represented the diocese, said local church officials hope Nelligan can use the money to get help for his mental anguish.
Bishop Michael Cote is “very concerned about this issue,” Sweeney said. “Our hearts go out to Michael Nelligan.”
Reardon said the large settlement was the result of evidence of Primavera’s sexual misconduct in the 1970s that was overlooked.
Canada’s Diocese of Toronto sent a letter to Norwich in 1978 when Primavera arrived in Norwich, saying Primavera had “a tendency to seek out the companionship of young teenage boys on a one-to-one basis,” Reardon said.
Toronto church officials said there had been no scandal, but Primavera received counseling from a Catholic psychiatrist and it was advisable to send him elsewhere.
“The conduct here was quite disturbing,” Reardon said. “The diocese accepted this priest from the Diocese of Toronto knowing he had been overtly friendly with young boys.”
Sweeney said Norwich Diocese officials were told by the Toronto Diocese in 1978 that Primavera’s actions were not sexual in nature. “The diocese back in 1978 did act responsibly,” he said.
Parishioners in Westbrook lodged complaints about “theft and homosexuality” related to Primavera in 1979 and he was transferred to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London.
Michael Long of Waterford accused Primavera of molestation while in New London. The diocese settled for $1.1 million last year.
Waterford police found Primavera “in a compromising position” with a boy in 1980, Sweeney said. Primavera was fired and sent back to Toronto, he said.
Primavera served in dioceses in Toronto, Boston, Hartford and New York before going to New Mexico in 1990 to teach at a Catholic boys’ high school. He was convicted of sex offenses involving teenage boys.
He was defrocked as a priest and died in Connecticut last year denying any wrongdoing.
Files Show Norwich Diocese Told Former Priest Sought Out Teen Boys
The Day (New London, Connecticut)
17 May 2003
By Day Staff Writer
Norwich (AP) – Personnel files of a priest accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy in the late 1970$ show a Toronto bishop had advised the Norwich Diocese that the priest was known to seek out teenage boys, WFSB¬TV reported Friday.
A Middlesex Superior Court judge last month ordered the personnel files of the former Rev. Bruno Primavera released. The diocese had sought a protective order to keep them from public view.
The files included correspondence from an auxiliary bishop in Toronto to Norwich’s then-Bishop Daniel Reilly, saying that Primavera displayed a “tendency to seek out the companionship of young teenage boys on a one¬to-one basis,” the television station reported.
Auxiliary Bishop Thomas B. Fulton wrote, “In one instance, although no public scandal resulted, his conduct was such that it was found advisable to transfer him to another parish.”
The letter came after Primavera requested a move to Connecticut, where he then had family, WFSB-TV reported.
Primavera is accused of sexually abusing Michael Nelligan in 1977 and 1978, when Nelligan was 14 and 15 years old. Primavera was then a pastor at St. Mark’s the Evangelist Church in Westbrook.
Nelligan is suing Primavera and the diocese. His lawsuit says the diocese and church officials disregarded complaints against Primavera.
Robert Reardon Jr., the lawyer representing Nelligan and another man who accuses Primavera of molesting him at a church in New London, criticized the Norwich Diocese for assigning Primavera to a youth group. A lawyer for the church said the diocese was assured that the concerns raised about the priest were not of consequence and the church acted responsibly.
A lawyer for Primavera said in court documents that his client never molested the boys, WFSB-TV reported.
Primavera was later sent to New Mexico, where he was a priest and counselor at New Mexico Military Institute. While in New Mexico, Primavera was arrested and convicted of felony sexual offense involving his students, Reardon said.
Joseph T. Sweeney, a lawyer representing the diocese, has said that Primavera was never an employee of the Norwich Diocese.
Sweeney said Primavera worked on a “one-year-at-a-time trial basis,” serving at St. Mark’s from June 1978 until Sept. 7, 1979, when he was reassigned to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London. He served there until February 1980.
“And at that stage Bishop Daniel Reilly decided he no longer wanted to have him around and sent him back to Toronto,” Sweeney said last month.
Primavera, who know lives in New Britain, is no longer a priest. He could not be reached for comment.
Files on Ex-Priest Ordered Released in Sex-Abuse Case
Norwich Diocese Must Share Records with Local Attorney
The Day (New London, Connecticut)
11 April 2003
By Kenton Robinson
A Middletown Superior Court judge has ordered the Norwich Diocese to turn over the personnel files of the Rev. Bruno Primavera, who is accused of sexually abusing a young Westbrook man in the late 1970s.
Michael Nelligan is suing Primavera and the diocese, alleging that Primavera molested him in 1977 and 1978 when Primavera was a priest at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Westbrook.
Robert I. Reardon Jr., the attorney representing Nelligan, also is representing another plaintiff, using the pseudonym John Doe, who alleges Primavera sexually molested him after Primavera was transferred to St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London.
Both plaintiffs were teenagers at the time they say they were molested.
Reardon said he believes the files contain letters “from bishops to bishops and from priests to priests concerning transfers of Primavera.”
“My argument was that it’s high time the Catholic Church stop covering up,” Reardon said Thursday. “I need these documents to demonstrate that the Catholic Church is covering up.”
The diocese had sought a protective order to prevent the disclosure of the personnel files, arguing their disclosure in the media could impair the defendant’s right to a fair trial.
But Daniel F. Spallone, a judge trial referee for the court, ruled otherwise.
“AII courts have experienced scrutiny where the case is subject to intense media focus. It is rarely shown that such concentration results in an unfair trial of the accused,” Spallone said. “Furthermore, it is well established that democracy, truth and justice flourish in the bright light of openness, where, on the other hand, they wilt in the shadows of secrecy.”
Joseph T. Sweeney, the attorney representing the diocese, said Thursday that he did not plan to appeal the judge’s ruling.
“The position I took was that these documents could be handed over but not exploited by the news media,” Sweeney said.
Primavera was never an employee of the Norwich Diocese, Sweeney said. A Fairfield County native, he came down from the Toronto Archdiocese to be closer to his recently widowed mother and to serve the Norwich Diocese on “a one-year-at-a-time trial basis.”
Primavera served at St. Mark’s beginning in June 1978, Sweeney said, and on Sept. 7, 1979, was reassigned to St. Mary, where he served until Feb. 7, 1980.
“And at that stage Bishop Daniel Reilly decided he no longer wanted to have him around and sent him back to Toronto,” Sweeney said. “After that, he did bounce around.”
Ultimately, Primavera ended up at New Mexico Military Institute, where he was arrested, convicted and served time in prison for a sexual offense involving military students, Reardon said.
Asked whether Bishop Reilly sent Primavera back to Toronto because of sexual abuse of minors, Sweeney said he did not.
“The diocese had no prior awareness that there was sexual abuse of children until the very end, and it wasn’t an overt suggestion,” Sweeney said. “But rather it was that he was seen in certain places unbecoming of a priest.”
Nelligan in his lawsuit alleges that, when he was 14 and 15 years old, Primavera on numerous occasions kissed him, fondled his genitals, performed oral sex on him and masturbated him.
In his lawsuit, Doe alleges that Primavera lured him to his rectory bedroom by asking the 14-year-old to listen to records. He then assaulted Doe, Reardon said.
Reardon had argued that the personnel files were relevant and necessary to the plaintiffs case against the diocese.
“The defendant Diocese and its bishops Reilly and (Daniel) Hart rely, in no small part, upon the contents of these reports to support their claims that they acted properly in variously making Primavera priest, and in allowing him to continue as a priest after his propensity for forbidden sex was discovered,” Reardon argued in his brief.
Primavera, who now lives in New Britain, is no longer a priest. He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“Judge Spallone was not interested in Mr. Sweeney’s argument that I wanted these documents so I could spread them throughout the media,” Reardon said. “And Mr. Sweeney is the one that was worried about the media spreading it about.”
Sweeney responded: “The judge has ruled, so Mr. Reardon’s going to have these records, and if he wishes to wave them in front of you or the TV cameras, he’s free to do so.”
Former Altar Boy Comes Forward with Allegations against Priest
21 August 2002
By Associated Press
New London, CT – A second former altar boy has come forward with sexual assault allegations against a former Diocese of Norwich priest.
A lawsuit filed in New London Superior Court this week claims that former priest Bruno Primavera assaulted a 14-year-old boy in the late 1970s when Primavera worked at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in New London.
Primavera had been transferred to the church after allegations arose at a Westbrook parish that he repeatedly sexually molested and assaulted another 14-year-old boy, the lawsuit claims. The alleged victim, now 38, filed a lawsuit earlier this month.
Both lawsuits name the diocese and Primavera.
New London lawyer Robert Reardon, who is representing both former altar boys, says the diocese should have known of Primavera’s illegal sexual acts and it did nothing to prevent or investigate them.
The plaintiff in the latest lawsuit is a man, now 38, who is identified only as John L. Doe. Reardon said Doe, who is married with children and still lives in southeastern Connecticut, feared the lawsuit would embarrass his family public.
“My client has been troubled with this his entire life,” Reardon told the Norwich Bulletin.
Reardon says Doe met Primavera in 1978 when Primavera was working as a leader in St. Mary’s Catholic Youth Organization, of which Doe was a member.
Reardon says Primavera lured Doe to his rectory bedroom one day by asking the 14-year-old boy to listen to his stereo. The bedroom was decorated with a leopard-print bedspread and fluffy pillows on the floor, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit says Primavera fondled Doe’s genitals, performed oral sex on him and engaged in other acts of sexual assault and exploitation.
“The fact that this man’s room was decorated like this should have sent a message to the other priest’s living there,” Reardon said. “Someone should have done something to prevent this.”
Doe reported the alleged abuse to his parents, who later complained to St. Mary’s officials. Primavera immediately was removed from his post at St. Mary’s, Reardon said.
The suit names as defendants Primavera; the diocese; St. Mary’s; former Norwich bishop Daniel P. Reilly, now bishop of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass.; and Monsignor Thomas Bride, who now is vicar general of the diocese and pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Quaker Hill.
Primavera, who lives in New Britain and is no longer a priest, said Tuesday night he had not been served with Doe’s lawsuit and would not comment on it until he had retained an attorney.
“I’m not saying anything about this yet,” Primavera said.
Norwich attorney Michael Driscoll, who represents the diocese, said the diocese also had not been served with the suit and would not comment on it until he had read through it.
Earlier this month, Reardon filed a similar lawsuit in Middletown Superior Court on behalf of Michael Nelligan, a 38-year-old man now living in Westbrook and Portland, Maine.
Nelligan claims Primavera repeatedly sexually assaulted him when he was 14 and Primavera was a priest at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in Westbrook in the late 1970s.
The diocese later sent Primavera to Servants of the Paraclete Treatment Center in New Mexico, where he was treated for his alleged acts of sexual abuse, Reardon said.
The diocese also is named in another sexual abuse suit filed by a man under the pseudonym John Doe, who claims former East Lyme priest Richard T. Buongirno repeatedly sexually abused him as a boy. Reardon also is representing Doe in that case.
Former Priest Accused of Abuse
By Eric Rich
10 August 2002
Hartford Courant (Connecticut)
A Westbrook man has claimed in a lawsuit that he was sexually molested by his parish priest when he was a teenager.
Michael Nelligan’s suit claims former priest Bruno Primavera, who now lives in New Britain, repeatedly abused him when he was a parishioner at St. Mark the Evangelist in Westbrook in 1977 and 1978. Nelligan, 38, was 14 at the time.
According to the suit, Primavera abused Nelligan by “kissing him on the lips” and “touching and fondling” his genitalia, among other sexual actions. The assaults often occurred at the church, the suit claims.
The suit does not reveal specifically how Nelligan and Primavera came to be alone during those times, but does say that Primavera was acting as a chaperone during some of the assaults.
The suit, filed in Middlesex Superior Court in Middletown, names Primavera, former Norwich Bishop Daniel Reilly and the Diocese of Norwich as defendants.
“The conduct of the church was with reckless disregard for the minors of the parish,” said Robert Reardon, the plaintiff’s attorney. “They didn’t have any programs. They didn’t supervise these priests.”
The suit charges that the Catholic Church was aware of previous complaints against Primavera but failed to react properly.
“The employer is responsible for the conduct of its employees,” Reardon said.
The diocese eventually sent Primavera to a New Mexico treatment center for clergy involved in alleged sexual abuse acts, but after the alleged abuse of Nelligan.
Nelligan, who also has a home in Portland, Maine, continues to undergo therapy for the abuse, Reardon said. He is seeking an unspecified amount of money.
In a prepared statement, the diocese said “the complaint has been forwarded to counsel, who will be reviewing the matter. It is important that we respect the legal system and that we allow it to consider this matter in a fair and impartial manner, uninfluenced either by idle speculation or by any premature judgments.”
The statement also said, “The diocese is committed to providing any help it can to victims of sexual misconduct in cooperation with civil authorities.”
Primavera, 61, could not be reached Friday. Reardon said Primavera has left the priesthood.
Reilly was Norwich’s bishop from 1975-1994 before becoming the bishop in Worcester, Mass.
“For 30 years, the Catholic Church has turned a blind eye,” Reardon said. “It’s time for them to admit they were wrong.”