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After 30 Years, Still Aching For Justice

Driven to confront the Catholic religious order he continues to blame for the sexual abuse he suffered as a boy, John Waddington was arrested in late January on the campus of St. Michael's College in Vermont.

Waddington, 43, a resident of Groton and a senior electrical designer at Electric Boat, was charged with trespassing on Jan. 26. He was civil, say the police in Colchester, Vt., where St. Michael's, founded by the Society of St. Edmund, is located. His public demeanor in Vermont contrasts with the cancerous disquiet and vows of revenge he espouses in conversation and e-mails here.

“I've done the civil disobedience deal and got screwed over,” Waddington wrote last week. “My patience with Mr. Many and the society (Society of Saint Edmund) is wearing thin. I've told the FBI, the Vermont police, the Vermont court system, newspapers and TV stations. What do I have to do to get a known serial child rapist off the streets?”

In October 2001, a U.S. District Court jury in Bridgeport unanimously awarded Waddington $850,000 in damages after finding that Charles Many, then of Burlington, Vt., sexually molested Waddington at Sacred Heart Church in Groton, where Many was an Edmundite priest. The abuse occurred when Waddington was 14 and an altar boy at Sacred Heart.

Many left the priesthood in 1994, after allegations of molestation against him from Groton and a parish in Vermont were made public. Waddington filed his suit against Many and the Edmundites in 1996.

Despite the jury award and seeming vindication for Waddington, contentment eluded him. Within weeks of the jury's finding, the judge who presided over the brief trial ordered a new trial, deciding that she should not have allowed testimony about Many regarding a subsequent relationship the priest had with a 16-year-old parishioner in Vermont. Waddington chose not to pursue another trial and collected no money.

News earlier in January of a $2 million settlement agreed to by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich with a former altar boy who alleged he was molested by a priest provoked Waddington. He said he's also fighting efforts by the federal government to revoke his security clearance badge at EB.

“They say I've been arrested too many times,” said Waddington last week. Waddington was charged with driving under the influence in February 2004, but he said the government cites misbehavior when he was younger. Being arrested in Vermont, he said was different. It was yet another attempt to make his personal history and his frustration known.

“The nightmare is, he's still out there,” said Waddington, referring to Many. “The guy's been moving around. When I go back up there (on Feb. 21, for a court appearance), I want to get a camera. ... Whatever it takes, I'll do it.”

Michael Fish, a detective with the Colchester, Vt., police, said last week that Waddington talked to him as he drove to St. Michael's College, where the Edmundites are based. “He told us he was coming up,” said Fish. “I told him the college didn't want him on the property. The college told him. He arrived, the police met him there and booked him. He was very cooperative.”

Waddington, who says he's being divorced by his third wife, clearly aches for some manner of resolution. “Mr. Many should be arrested, and the people who knew about Mr. Many's behavior and sent him from town to town should be arrested, and I should have received some monetary form of just compensation from the society,” he wrote last week.

He will have a forum, such as it is, in a Vermont courtroom. He will be heard. Painful as the abuse continues to be for Waddington, he understands that he has to remain civil.

This is the opinion of Steven Slosberg.
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