Priest who abused ECHS student may have many more victims, lawyer says

May 6—MANCHESTER — The lawyer for a man who received a payment from the Archdiocese of Hartford after he accused a priest of abusing him at East Catholic High School and St. Bartholomew Church in the 1980s said he expects more victims may now come forward.

The lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian, said Wednesday that the Archdiocese agreed to pay his client in the low six figures to settle a claim. Garabedian said his client wished to keep the exact amount unknown.

The man accused the Rev. Kenneth Bonadies of sexually abusing him at East Catholic High School and St. Bartholomew Church in the 1980s, and the Archdiocese of Hartford found the accusations credible, the lawyer said.

Garabedian announced the settlement Wednesday at a news conference outside of the Archdiocese's headquarters on Farmington Avenue in Hartford.

Based on Bonadies' assignment history and the number of times his client was abused, Garabedian said he believes there could be dozens more people who were victims of Bonadies.

"Now that the ice has been broken and Father Bonadies' name is out there publicly, vicitms will become empowered and come forward to report also having been sexually abused," Garabedian said.

Garabedian said his client was sexually abused by Bonadies from approximately 1981 to 1985 when he was between about 14-17 years of age. The victim said he was sexually abused more than 100 times by Bonadies at East Catholic High School in Manchester, at Bonadies' home in Eastford, in the rectory of St. Bartholomew's Church in Manchester, and several other locations.

Bonadies was a music, Latin, theater, and band teacher at the school, Garabedian said, and his client was both in band and theater with the man.

The attorney said that Bonadies' assignment record paints the picture of a cover up during his career. Per the official Catholic Directory log provided to the Journal Inquirer, Bonadies was assigned to the Diocese of Steubenville from 1967 to 1976, when he deemed "absent on leave." He was absent on leave for three years, from 1976 through 1979.

"Absent on leave is code for being treated for pedophilia, we all know that," Garabedian said. "So why was Father Bonadies sent from the Diocese of Steubenville where he was incardinated, absent on leave for three years, and then incardinated to the Archdiocese of Hartford? Why didn't the supervisors in the Archdiocese of Hartford look into why Father Bonadies was being sent to treatment centers and was absent on leave?"

Bonadies then was assigned to St. Bartholomew's Parish in Manchester in 1980 before joining East Catholic High School in 1983. There is no record of Bonadies' assignment in 1986, but from 1987 to 2005 he was at St. Ann in Hamden before retiring. He now lives in Pinellas Park, Florida.

"The assignment record is troubling and it indicates that the cover-up continued," Garabedian said. "Because the cover-up continues, a message is sent that nothing has changed with the Catholic Church in terms of protecting children.

Garabedian said that his client called Bonadies in 1989 to confront him, but Bonadies wouldn't acknowledge anything wrong occurred and didn't apologize.

The victim, 53, spoke anonymously by telephone at the press conference. He said that coming forward and reporting the abuse, and now winning a settlement, has helped him obtain validation.

"My client has shown an enormous amount of courage and he's transformed himself from a victim into a survivor," Garabedian said.

Officials with the archdiocese declined to comment, citing a policy against discussing legal matters. Contact information for Bonadies could not immediately be found.

The archdiocese this week added Bonadies' name to its directory of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, bringing the number of priests on the list to 49. Church officials posted the directory online in 2019, following a review of records that showed the archdiocese had paid more than $50 million to settle more than 140 claims of sexual abuse by priests dating to 1953.

Bonadies was ordained in 1965 and retired in 2004, before the church received any abuse claims against him, according to church records.

Boston-based Garabedian has long been an advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse. He was involved with the Boston Globe's investigation of efforts to cover up clergy sexual abuse in Boston, which was the subject of the Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight."

This story includes Associated Press reporting.

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