Claims Against Priest Too Old

The state won't prosecute a local priest accused of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred 30 years ago, because the statute of limitations has expired, State's Attorney James Thomas said.

Thomas said he reviewed a new law addressing the statute of limitations in such cases, but concluded the case is too old.

The Rev. Daniel McShefferey, longtime pastor of St. Augustine Church in North Branford, was placed on administrative leave in May following allegations of sexual abuse the complainant said occurred while the priest was associate pastor of St. Augustine Church in Hartford.

"There was some initial confusion about the meaning of the new law, but it is prospective, not retroactive, so it wouldn't cover this complaint against Father McSheffery," Thomas told the New Haven Register. "Therefore, my office is not planning to do anything with it."

The law extends the statute of limitations on criminal prosecution of child sex abuse cases. Previously, victims couldn't file complaints after they reached age 20; the new law extends that limit to age 48.

But the criminal extension only applies to future offenses, not past ones. The new law also extends the statute of limitations for victims to file civil actions alleging child sex abuse, giving victims until they reach age 48 to file lawsuits.

This provision is retroactive, meaning it applies to offenses that occurred prior to the law's approval, as well as future offenses.

Officials have not released the current age of the complainant.

As of Friday, McSheffery was not named in any civil cases, according to the state Judicial Department's website.

Vincent Candelora, a North Branford resident and vice-chairman of the St. Augustine Parish Council, said Friday he is pleased the state won't pursue any criminal charges against his pastor.

"I believe father is completely innocent and these allegations are false, either intentionally or in someone's memory," Candelora said. "Our entire community is hoping and praying that he'll be vindicated."

The Rev. John Gatzak, spokesman for the Hartford archdiocese, said diocese officials will review the state's attorney's decision.

McSheffery could not be reached for comment.