Court Reseals Records in Priest's Sex Case

United Press International
October 25, 1990

A Blair County judge has resealed records in a lawsuit accusing a Catholic priest of sexually molesting a mentally retarded boy, overruling a fellow judge's order which gave reporters a brief glance at the documents.

Common Pleas Judge Hiram Carpenter III issued the order to reseal the case records Wednesday, after a telephone conference with presiding Judge David Grine of Centre County, in response to a petition for "emergency relief" filed by the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.

Carpenter's ruling interrupted reporters who had just begun to page through some of the dozens of documents in the 3-year-old case against the Rev. Francis Luddy.

Grine, specially assigned to handle the case, had directed Monday that the records be open to the public. His order arrived in the Blair County prothonotary's office Wednesday, as did local newspaper reporters.

Carpenter said he telephoned Grine in Bellefonte "to get his consent" before closing the files.

The two-page petition filed by the diocese, retired Bishop James Hogan, Saint Therese Catholic Church and its elementary school asks that Grine reconsider his Oct. 22 order to open the case and, if he declines, to certify the case for appeal to state Superior Court.

The defendents claim that making the case records public could subject them to "irreparable and extreme harm."

The suit charges Luddy with sexually abusing a retarded boy, now an adult, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It was filed by the man's mother. Both live in Ohio.

A similar suit against Luddy was filed in Somerset County in October 1988 by the retarded man's brother, who lives in Akron, Ohio. It alleges that Luddy seduced him when he was 10 and engaged in sexual acts with him intermittently for six years.

Luddy, 48, is on a leave of absence from the priesthood and now lives near Albuquerque, N.M., where he is attending a treatment center for priests with alcohol, drug or sexual problems.


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