Suit Filed against Priest for Alleged Sex Abuse

United Press International
October 27, 1988

A former Blair County youth has filed a nine-count lawsuit accusing a Roman Catholic priest of sexually abusing him for six years and possibly exposing him to AIDS, The Pittsburgh Press reported Thursday in a copyright story.

The 24-page lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Somerset County Common Pleas Court, alleges the Rev. Francis Luddy seduced the youth when the priest was the pastor of St. Mary Church in Windber, Pa., the newspaper said.

Also named as defendants were the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and a number of church officials, The Press said.

"It looks like they're (the youth and his attorney) on a fishing trip or out for revenge," said Monsignor Philip Saylor, a spokesman for the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. "They think the church is a bottomless pit of money, but it's not true. We had a $1.5 million deficit last year."

The youth is seeking more than $10,000 in damages on each of the counts against each of the 10 defendants and requested a jury trial, the newspaper said.

The suit said Luddy developed a close relationship with the youth when the priest was assigned to St. Therese Church in Altoona and the youth attended St. Therese's elementary school, The Press said.

The youth, who now lives in Akron, Ohio, charged in the suit he was 9 or 10

when Luddy "first performed pedophilic sexual acts" on him, including "oral and anal intercourse, exhibitionism and other homosexual" conduct, the newspaper said.

The suit said the most recent sexual acts occurred three years ago at St. Mary when the boy was 16, The Press said.

State police charged Luddy on May 12 with corruption of a minor and indecent exposure in an incident that occurred between July 1 to 14, 1985, after the boy passed a lie detector test, the newspaper said.

District Justice Joseph Cannoni of Windber, who ordered Luddy held for court on the charges, said the youth "was pretty graphic in his description" of the sex acts during his testimony on May 27. Cannoni said the testimony indicated "there was not force involved" by Luddy during the incident.

Luddy, 46, who is on a leave of absence from the priesthood, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Oct. 12 and his trial was scheduled for mid-January, the newspaper said.

Luddy lives in Alburquerque, N.M., and is attending a rehabilitation center for priests with pedophilia, alcohol, drug and other problems, The Press said.

He could not be reached for comment.


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