Accuser testifies on first day of Naugatuck priest's sex assault trial
BY JONATHAN SHUGARTS |
REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN WATERBURY --
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
A Naugatuck teenager testified on Monday his relationship with Rev. Robert J. Grant, a Roman Catholic priest, began with back massages.
But it turned into drinking wine from paper cups and, eventually, oral sex.
Grant's trial on sexual assault and risk of injury charges began in Waterbury Superior Court with testimony from the teenager, who is now 18. Grant, 67, served as a priest at St. Mary's and St. Hedwig's churches in Naugatuck, but after his 2007 arrest was placed on administrative leave.
Grant's attorney, William St. John, told the jury the teenager's claims against Grant were a search for money based on current and pending lawsuits filed against the embattled priest.
The boy, who was 15 at the time he says the incidents occurred, worked at St. Mary's with his father, who had been a maintenance man there for about 15 years. The boy, referred to in court proceedings as "C.R.," said he helped his father with janitorial chores around the church.
Grant would sit in the church pews reading, and in a confessional booth, as the boy carried out his chores, C.R. testified. In a rear room of the church, behind its altar, the boy would talk with Grant as he finished his work, he testified.
Grant asked the teenager about his hobbies and how he was doing in school, but those talks eventually led to the priest pouring wine into paper Dixie cups and telling the boy to drink, C.R. testified.
"He would insist on it, so I would drink it," C.R. said.
From 2006 to 2007, Grant asked the teenager for back massages and eventually for oral sex. Senior State's Attorney Catherine Austin asked C.R. to show the jury how he performed the sex acts on Grant, prompting C.R. to kneel on the floor in front of the jury.
"He asked me to undo his belt," the boy said. "I looked at him and asked him if he was serious."
The teenager was paid after each encounter. Grant gave him $20 from a silver money clip after he gave the boy wine, then $50 after the massages and $100 after oral sex, C.R. testified. Grant told the boy to keep the sexual encounters to himself, but by that point C.R. said he felt ashamed and embarrassed, which prompted him to avoid reporting the incidents to police.
The boy returned home after an encounter with Grant and his father smelled wine on his breath, which eventually led him to confess to his father about the incidents.
The teenager, wearing glasses and gold stud earrings, showed little expression as he told the jury about his encounters with Grant. Equally expressionless was Grant, who fingered a blue pen and showed little reaction as he listened to the testimony.
According to St. John, the boy's father is seeking $90,000 from the church that he claims he's owed on a terminated maintenance contract.
"After he didn't get it, you went to the Naugatuck police and told them this story ... isn't that correct?" St. John asked the boy.
C.R. replied: "It's not so much of a story."
The boy's father, referred to as "H.R." in the courtroom, said he was originally from Guyana and was a Hindu. He had worked as a maintenance man for various priests throughout his time with the church and had lived in Naugatuck since 1980. At one point, Grant and the family were close; the priest ate at the family home and the two would take short walks together.
On March 25, 2007, H.R.'s son told him he had performed oral sex on Grant, prompting the father to confront Grant the next day. According to H.R.'s testimony, Grant admitted he gave the boy wine and money, but denied he had sex with him.
"I don't think anybody as a parent would like to hear a priest did that to their son," H.R. said.
Grant fired H.R. on March 27, 2007, which prompted H.R. to file a lawsuit in May against St. Mary's Church, claiming Grant wrongfully fired him after he refused an order to remove asbestos wrapping from a set of basement pipes.
"He fired me because I confronted him about what he did to C.R.," the teenager's father said.
Under cross examination from St. John, the boy said he planned to file a suit against Grant based on the alleged sexual encounters.
Grant's trial is expected to continue today. He faces up to 20 years for the second-degree sexual assault charge.
The following are comments from online readers like you. In no way do they represent the view of The Republican-American.
Barbara Dorris wrote on Jan 13, 2009 9:12 AM:
" We hope others who saw, suspected or suffered crimes by this priest will be courageous, come forward, get help, and call the police. When victims and witnesses stay silent, nothing changes. But when victims and witnesses come forward, there's at least a chance for healing, justice and prevention.
Outreach Coordinator, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
St. Louis MO 63130
314 862 7688
Catherine Konnik wrote on Jan 13, 2009 10:48 AM:
" Do you need to be so graphic in your reporting of this story. Sure the boys identity is revealed, but don't you think he and his family might read the paper too. Bad enough he had to reenact the act in front of a courtroom, but now in front of all your readers. Borders on sensationalizing. This is the type of material I pass up in the Grocery line. "
mike ference wrote on Jan 13, 2009 3:46 PM:
" Sorry you find the report difficult to read, Catherine but sadly, graphic presentation of Catholic priests abusing innocent children as sex toys is necessary to convince some people that crimes against God's children have actually occurred. While you may have difficulty reading about sexual abuse of young children, one can only imagine what it must be like to be sexually abused by a person, supposedly based on Catholic faith, who represents Jesus, Himself.
If Catholic church hierarchy are ever held accountable for their acts of covering up these crimes, and if the documentation is finally released and the truth becomes known, then Catherine, you will find it extremely difficult to read the reports of what has been going on for decades.
Mike Ference "
Catherine Konnik wrote on Jan 13, 2009 4:22 PM:
" Hi Mike,
My concern is for the victim and his family. What I meant to say was that although, I know the victims identity IS NOT revealed in this story, the Victim himself may very likely be a reader of this story. I don't suggest for one moment that this abhorrent behavior be covered up, rather I suggest that we find a way to report on it that does not present the opportunity to re-victimize victims and their families. "
BOB DARIGIS wrote on Jan 14, 2009 9:59 AM:
" Please keep in mind that we are still living in a society that assumes our innocence until proven guilty. At this juncture in time, it seems only 2 people know the real truth in this case. Father Grant has been a fervent supporter of his parish community and deserves to have his side heard.
Bob Darigis "
mike ference wrote on Jan 15, 2009 2:16 PM:
Catholic Church Hierarchy have had amble time to fess up to the crimes of pedophile priests and to release information that would make this world a lot safer, yet, they choose no to. At this point, it's fairly easy and perhaps reasonable, to assume a priest guilty before a trial date is even set. Let me remind you that very few trials involving clergy abuse civil lawsuits make it to jury. Most cases are settled so that documents are sealed and that's a choice made by Catholic Church Hierarchy and their attorneys and pr people.
Mike Ference "
Meredith DiLiberto wrote on Jan 15, 2009 5:37 PM:
" THANK YOU Bob for pointing out what everyone seems to have forgotten BECAUSE the accused is a priest -- Fr. Grant is INNOCENT until PROVEN guilty. From what I have read, and as an attorney, I see a LOAD of reasonable doubt -- mostly in the form of a kid in need of an alibi and a father with an axe to grind. "
Bob Darigis wrote on Jan 15, 2009 5:58 PM:
" Mike, it sounds like you are inferring guilt by association; I for one, take issue with that inference.
Although I admit not knowing all the facts in this case, I am far from ready to file father Grant in with the group of egregious guilty clergy. The fact that father Grant is pleading innocent and proceeding with a jury trial, entitles him to a "fair" trial,even though precedents have led most folks to believe otherwise. I don't mean to sound unempathetic to victims of this abhorrent crime, but let's let the jury decide guilt or innocence not precedent.
Respectfully, Bob Darigis "
Kevin Morrissey wrote on Jan 15, 2009 8:03 PM:
" Mike, you hit the bulls eye. The diocese of Burlington, VT has been hit with jury awards of 8.7M and 3.6M from two trials in 2008. Rev. Edward Paquette was the abuser in both cases. It was the diocese's documents that told the story. They hired a pedophile priest even though they knew he abused boys in Indiana and Massachusetts. In the 3.6M case the victim offered to return the award money to the diocese if they published "the names, assigments and pictures of all credibly accused pedophiles on their Web site" because "the parents deserve to know." Instead, the Burlington diocese has said it will appeal the verdict award. So much for "forgiveness and healing." "