NORWICH, CT (WFSB) – The Catholic church is still recovering from a world-wide sex abuse scandal, which has shaken the faith of thousands of survivors.
In the Diocese of Norwich, after decades of alleged abuse and cover-ups, one of those survivors is waging a one-man protest against what he calls the church’s lack of accountability.
A beautiful, meticulously maintained brick parish house is the home to the Diocese of Norwich Bishop Michael Cote.
Bishop Cote has repeatedly refused to meet with a once devout, but now severely damaged follower.
“I am the enemy of the church,” said Tim McGuire.
McGuire, 60-years-old, is protesting what he calls the diocese’s arrogantly dismissive attitude toward the “children of God” who lost their innocence to pedophile priests.
He’s walking for friends he’s known and lost, people he’s never met, and a little boy from Noank.
“It got worse every time. The second meeting I had to fondle him. The third meeting he penetrated me,” McGuire said. “He raped my soul. Where do you have left to go?”
It has taken McGuire nearly 50 years to come to grips with his pain and shame. He says it began at age 8, in 1967, as an altar boy in a Noank church.
The repeated sexual molestation and rape by Father James Curry.
“After a couple of times, it was a hand wave and a nod. He didn’t have to say anything. I was expected to see him after church,” McGuire said.
Curry died in 1986, but his name lives on, appearing on a list published by the Diocese of Norwich this year of 43 Diocesan priests, “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children.
McGuire says Curry’s abuse cost him his self-esteem and his faith.
“There’s no where left to go. He took God away from me. He took your religion, took your innocence, what’s left,” McGuire said.
McGuire says for over a decade, Bishop Cote and diocese officials have refused to meet with him, and not even take his phone calls.
“It’s been too long. Somebody owes me an explanation or an apology and some justice. Some accountability,” McGuire said.
In Connecticut, church accountability can be hard to come by.
Experts say our state has some of the nation’s weakest laws regarding church related child sexual abuse. They cite two reasons.
The state’s attorney is unable to even issue a subpoena to church officials prior to an arrest. And while Connecticut’s newly revised “statute of limitations bill” gives survivors three more years, until age 51, to file a civil lawsuit against the church, the bill fails to allow for an added “window” for victims older than 51.
When McGuire came forward 12 years ago, he learned he missed the cut off date by three weeks.
“You’re come at with resources beyond your comprehension. You’re treated like this is an all-out assault on the church,” McGuire said.
University of Pennsylvania professor, Marci Hamilton, who testified along with McGuire about statute of limitations reform at the state capitol, is considered the nation’s leading expert on child sexual abuse and the reluctance of victims to speak out, even decades later.
Hamilton calls Connecticut’s law a disgrace.
“The situation in Connecticut is that they are falling farther and farther behind, so while at one point their statute of limitations was not terrible, on a daily basis it’s getting worse,” Hamilton said.
McGuire still believes in God but refuses to step inside a church.
He continues his one-man protests at Diocese of Norwich churches, but he’s lost faith that Bishop Cote will ever break his silence.
Bishop Cote has steadfastly refused to turn over “secret” church files on sex abuse complaints to law enforcement.
“As long as they are hiding secrets, they are being poisoned by this problem just as much as society is,” Hamilton said.
“The bishop needs to own up to his inaction and his mistreatment of victims at the hands of priests he oversaw,” McGuire said.
McGuire says he will continue to return to diocese churches every day for as long as it takes to find some form of accountability and justice.
“What’s the difference whether I pace in my living room or out here? I think the difference is, I can spread a message here, I can’t in my living room,” McGuire said.
Over the past several weeks, Eyewitness News has made numerous requests to Bishop Cote for comment on McGuire’s case and those of other sexual abuse victims.
The bishop refuses to comment, calling the allegations against diocese priests “matters of a personal nature.”
Victims of clergy abuse should call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678, and file a complaint.