Priest Admits Sex with 5 Boys Cleric Maintains He Never Molested the Man Suing Him

By Tom Gibb
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)
February 5, 1994

A former Altoona priest has acknowledged having had sex with five boys, but he denied having sex with the man who is suing him on a charge that he was molested.

While the plaintiff's attorney, Richard Serbin of Altoona, said earlier in the trial of the lawsuit that 13 boys had been molested, the defendant, the Rev. Francis Luddy, said he had molested only five youngsters.

"There were no others," he said yesterday in Blair County Common Pleas Court.

The 26-year-old plaintiff, who now lives near Akron, Ohio, charges that he was 11 when Luddy, his parish priest, drew him into a six-year sexual relationship. Serbin said the trauma of the relationship led the man to prostitution and stints in prisons and mental hospitals.

The suit, which seeks an undisclosed amount of money, also names the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese and some of its top officials as defendants, claiming they failed to curb Luddy despite evidence of pedophilia.

Luddy, assigned during two decades to rectories in Johnstown, Altoona and Windber, Somerset County, was the opening witness in the trial.

Serbin tried to show inconsistencies among Luddy's testimony, his previous depositions and statements he made in 1987, when he was admitted to a church rehabilitation center in Jemez Springs, N.M., where he now lives.

One of the priest's denials came when Serbin asked about a statement Luddy is said to have made, admitting that he had molested about 10 youngsters ages 15 to 18.

Luddy also detailed the end of a 3 1/2-year sexual relationship with the plaintiff's older brother in a scene set at the Windber parish where Luddy was assigned.

In a related matter, Judge Hiram Carpenter yesterday said he would not restrict reporters' access to principals in the trial.

Carpenter had slapped a gag order on the lawyers and, speaking from the bench earlier in the week, ordered reporters not to contact lawyers or witnesses.


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