Priest Takes Stand, Admits Molesting 4 Boys Defendant in Lawsuit Not Asked If Plaintiff Was Among Victims

By Tom Gibb
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)
February 4, 1994

A Catholic priest spent four hours on the witness stand yesterday, recounting years of sexual encounters with four boys ages 11 to 17.

And the litany is expected to continue today, covering more encounters and more boys.

The Rev. Francis Luddy was the first witness in the trial of a lawsuit in Blair County Common Pleas Court that charges him with molesting a former Altoona boy from 1978 to 1984, starting when the victim was 11. The accuser now is 26 years old.

The suit seeks unspecified monetary damages from Luddy and officials of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese who allegedly ignored warnings and failed to curb him as he moved through parishes in Altoona, Johnstown and Windber, Somerset County.

The 26-year-old man's lawyer, Richard Serbin of Altoona, never got around to asking Luddy whether he molested the plaintiff — a charge Luddy has denied. Instead, Serbin worked his way through part of a list he said included his client's two brothers and 10 other boys and spanned 15 years of sexual encounters with them.

Luddy, 51, appeared tense and spoke in a near monotone as he offered single-sentence answers to Serbin's questions.

But when Serbin asked about Luddy's bond to the plaintiff's older brother, whom the priest admitted molesting for 3 1/2 years, Luddy's voice softened as he told the court, "I was infatuated with him."

The priest told of performing oral sex on the boy but refusing when the boy tried to perform oral sex on him.

"I didn't want him to do it," Luddy said. "It was a personal feeling it would debase him."

Asked whether he believed that he had already debased the boy, he replied, "At the time, sir, no. Afterwards, yes."

Serbin led Luddy through a list of sexual encounters at the rectories where he stayed, on vacations in Puerto Rico and Europe with some of the alleged victims, and at a motel where Luddy stayed while visiting a sister, a former nun.

In some cases, Luddy admitted, he gave the youngsters alcohol. In some cases he kept them overnight in his rectory bedroom while other priests slept in nearby rooms.

But the priest — who now lives at a home in Albuquerque, N.M., for Catholic priests with sexual problems — said he never worried about his victims revealing the encounters.

He admitted repeated sex with a high school-age boy but told the court, "I never felt he would say anything."


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