March 19, 2005


The Westerly Sun

By Tom Kasprzak - The Sun Staff

PAWCATUCK - When parishioners of Sacred Heart Church in Norwich learned that their leader, Father Thomas McConaghy, was being accused of molesting a boy in the 1970s while serving at a military academy in Long Island, they were shocked.

For some former parishioners at St. Michael in Pawcatuck, the accusations have brought back painful memories of the past.

McConaghy, referred to by parishioners at St. Michael as "Father Tom," was pastor of the church from 1990 to 1998. During that time, a man named Michael Zaharie, a Pawcatuck resident, was volunteering his time at the school, taking students on trips and allegedly molesting them in private.

Kathy Shortridge, of Pawcatuck, who said her son was molested by Zaharie from the age of 7 to 15, says she believes Father Tom knew what was going on the entire time. Zaharie was ultimately convicted on two counts of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of first-degree assault. He served time in prison before his 2004 release.

Shortridge recalls how school and church officials appeared to address the alleged incidents.

"They had meetings about my son, without me being able to go," Shortridge says today.

Posted by kshaw at March 19, 2005 07:36 AM