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Reardon faces 122-count child abuse indictment

By Tom Farmer and Laurel J. Sweet
The Boston Herald
August 1, 2000
Web posted at: 2:22 PM EDT (1822 GMT)

BOSTON, Massachusetts (The Boston Herald) -- Hit yesterday with a massive 122-count indictment alleging he molested or disseminated pornography to 29 boys, Middleton youth worker Christopher J. Reardon could face additional charges if investigators convince other victims to testify, sources said.

Christopher Reardon at his arraignment in June
Christopher Reardon at his arraignment in June  

``(The investigation) isn't over,'' said one source. ``We're hoping to convince some other victims to testify against him.''

Reardon, 28, who ran the CCD program and youth ministry at St. Agnes Church in his native Middleton, is the focus of what could be the largest prosecution of a child sex abuse case in state history.

Reardon's attorney, John Andrews, and Essex County Assistant District Attorneys Jean Curran and Robert Brennan declined comment following the brief arraignment in Essex Superior Court in Salem. But a memorandum the prosecutors filed urging Reardon be held without bail said he demonstrated a ``pattern of premeditated, sexually predatory behavior toward pre-adolescent boys over a five-year period, the apparent culmination of a predilection that may date back even farther.''

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The prosecutors portrayed Reardon as a calculating predator who convinced children he was their ``friend'' and got some of his alleged victims to recruit ``their uninitiated friends to join in the `fun.' ''

Reardon, a former Boy Scout leader, allegedly would first create a ``titillating atmosphere'' by showing his victims pornography, then gradually introduce them to mutual touching, masturbation and sexual devices, before convincing some of them to engage in intercourse and oral sex with him.

``They believed that he was their friend,'' the prosecutors wrote. ``The defendant capitalized upon the rapport he built through years of involvement with individual children, and the trust imputed to him by parents, the church, the YMCA and the Boy Scouts. In fact, so strong was Reardon's influence that many of the victimized children still maintain feelings of loyalty, friendship and devotion to him, despite their conflicting sense of betrayal.''

Other allegations in the memorandum and indictment include:

The majority of the abuse, including 10 rapes involving four children, took place at the Danvers YMCA where Reardon was a swim instructor and summer camp coordinator ``during business hours,'' as well as in Reardon's home and church office. The abuse accusations date back to 1995, when he allegedly molested a 13-year-old boy at a YMCA summer camp in Boxford and end June 9, the day before he was arrested.

He cultivated victims by telling them ``this is what college kids do'' or ``this is how you practice for girls.'' He also told some victims they would be ``banished'' from the Danvers YMCA if they did not participate in the abuse.

He met some victims at the Danvers YMCA and without their parents' knowledge took them to his home or the church, where he molested them.

Reardon ``used the Internet to disseminate thousands of images of child pornography to as yet unknown recipients.'' His use of computers is also being investigated by the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston.

A list seized from Reardon's home contains ``more than 2,000 entries relating to his apparent observations of and/or interaction with over 300 boys. The children listed range in age from 3 years old to 17 years old, though the vast majority of entries appear to involve 10 to 12-year-old boys.''

With Reardon's parents and wife watching emotionless, Andrews entered innocent pleas to the charges that include 10 counts of child rape, 32 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, 34 counts of open and gross lewdness, 43 counts of disseminating pornography to a minor, two counts of unnatural acts with a person under 16 and a single count of posing a child nude.

Judge Nancy Merrick ordered Reardon held without bail pending bail and pre-trial hearings Aug. 30.

Danvers attorney Alan Grenier, who represents one of Reardon's alleged victims, said he is counseling close to a dozen families who are considering civil litigation against the Danvers YMCA and St. Agnes Parish.

The church and recreation center ``are laying low, hoping to watch the storm go by,'' Grenier said. ``Although (Reardon) deserves the lion's share of the blame, I hold them responsible for not supervising this man, who had unlimited access to children. Once the criminal case is concluded, we're ready to go.''



RELATED STORY:
Massachusetts town fears church worker may have molested hundreds of children


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