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Conn. Catholic leaders accused under RICO

NORWICH, Conn., Dec. 31 (UPI) -- Connecticut's Catholic Church is charged with racketeering in a suit that claims church officials covered up alleged sex abuse by priests, documents say.

The suit, brought by a New London, Conn., attorney, cites the leadership of the Norwich, Conn., Diocese with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act -- more commonly known as RICO -- for allegedly conspiring to keep reported child sex abuse by priests quiet, The Hartford Courant reported Wednesday.

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The suit names former Bishop Daniel Reilly and its current vicar general, the Rev. Thomas McBride, as culpable under RICO for alleged child sex abuse committed by the late the Rev. Thomas Shea, who was accused of sexually abusing at least 16 girls in the 11 parishes within the Norwich Diocese.

The suit lists five other cases involving priests who have been the subject of abuse accusations in Norwich, the newspaper said.

Attorney Robert Reardon, who filed the case on behalf of an anonymous Jane Doe, told the Courant the Norwich case is thought to be the first time RICO statutes have been used in a Connecticut priest abuse action.

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