Four Alleged Sex-Abuse Victims File Suit against Pittsburgh Diocese

Nepa News [Pittsburgh PA]
January 14, 2004

Four people who say they were abused by priests when they were children have accused the city's Roman Catholic diocese of covering it up, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday on their behalf.

Attorneys say the diocese covered up the abuse between 1972 and 1994. According to the lawsuit the victims, including two altar boys, were abused in various places ranging from confessional booths to the priests' cars.

"Some of these individuals have kept these secrets within for decades," said Richard Serbin, an attorney representing the alleged victims.

The diocese had not had time to review the lawsuit Wednesday, but planned to issue a statement, said diocesan spokesman Bob Lockwood.

A report issued last month gave the diocese high marks for compliance with the U.S. bishops' 2002 rules for responding to complaints of sexual abuse.

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh was named in 2002 to serve on the five-member committee created to review accountability in clergy sex abuse cases.

Wuerl has been praised for taking a hard line against abusers. In 1993, he refused to comply with a Vatican court order to reinstate a priest accused of molestation.

Attorneys in the lawsuit say reform was taken only after abuse became publicly known. The abuse allegedly took place in Catholic churches and schools in Baden, Butler, Etna and Pittsburgh.

The suit was filed one day after attorneys announced a similar lawsuit on behalf of five people who said they had been abused as children by priests serving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown.


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