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  Lawsuit Accuses Priest of Abuse

By Mike Castiglione mcastiglione@pottsmerc.com
The Mercury
April 20, 2006

http://www.pottstownmercury.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=
16505897&BRD=1674&PAG=461&dept_id=18041&rfi=6

Pottstown — A Pottstown Catholic school priest and principal have been named as defendants in a sexual abuse lawsuit filed Wednesday in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Responding to the allegations, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a written statement Wednesday saying an investigation by the Pottstown Po-lice Depart-ment last April concluded that the allegations were "unfounded and not credible."

Named as defendants in the lawsuit are Pastor Edward Kuczynski and Principal Joyce Babin of St. Peter's School on South Street.

The lawsuit, which also lists St. Peter's School, Cardinal Justin Rigali and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as defendants, was filed by the guardian of a former St. Peter's student. The family is seeking in excess of $600,000.

According to the lawsuit, Kuczynski sexually abused the student on several occasions from 2002 through February 2005, until the student notified a family doctor and was subsequently removed from the school. The student, who turns 14 on Sunday, is identified as "John Doe" in the lawsuit.

"Father Ed frequently confronted (the student) in the hallway of the school while he was walking alone to the restroom, at which time Father Ed would (fondle the student)," the lawsuit states.

The alleged abuse occurred sometimes as often as several times each week, the lawsuit states. After a Christmas party during the student's sixth-grade year, Kuczynski required the student to accompany him to the church in order to take down Christmas decorations, the lawsuit states.

While the student was on a ladder taking down decorations, "Father Ed told him that his pants were not right," and Kuczynski then unbuckled the student's pants and began to fondle the student, the lawsuit states.

As soon as he could safely do so, the student ran from Kuczynski directly to Principal Babin's office and told her what Kuczynski had just done to him, the lawsuit states.

"In response, Principal Babin told him that nothing had happened and he should return to his classroom and forget about the entire incident," the lawsuit states.

According to the archdiocese, the parish did not learn until April 20, 2005, that Pottstown police had received a complaint against Kuczynski. Subsequently, parish officials notified the archdiocese.

"An affidavit dated April 20, 2005, stated that police had already interviewed upwards of 20 people and no one had corroborated any of the family's allegations," the archdiocese stated in a release. "Before the end of April 2005, Father Kuczynski and the archdiocese were informed by Pottstown Police that they found the allegations against Father Kuczynski to be unfounded and that their investigation turned its focus to whether the complainant had made a false report."

Jay Abramowitch, the lawyer for the family, said the claims against St. Peter's School and Babin indicate that the student was entrusted to their care, and that they knowingly and intentionally exposed the minor to the abuse of a known predator without any warning.

Abramowitch also said the claims against the archdiocese and Cardinal Rigali include fraudulently concealing Kuczynski's actions.

A phone call to St. Peter's School Wednesday seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Kuczynski and Babin still work at St. Peter's School.

"Father Kuczynski is a priest in good standing in the archdiocese," according to the archdiocese release. "Prior to this matter, we have no knowledge of any allegation involving the sexual abuse of a minor by him. We cooperated fully with authorities in this investigation and are confident that the police conducted a thorough and just investigation."

 
 

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