|Second Lawsuit Alleges Abuse by Priest
By Ben Penserga
September 13, 2008
WILMINGTON -- A second lawsuit was filed Friday against the Diocese of Wilmington alleging childhood sexual abuse by the Rev. Leonard Mackiewicz while stationed at St. Francis de Sales Church in Salisbury.
The 51-year-old plaintiff, referenced only as "John Poe" in the suit, alleges Mackiewicz took the then-12-year-old altar boy to Sussex County, where he was abused, said Stephen Neuberger, the victim's attorney.
The lawsuit also alleges the Rev. Steven Breen, another priest at St. Francis de Sales, regularly observed Mackiewicz taking the victim up to his rectory bedroom to sexually abuse him, but never intervened. A longtime Boy Scout chaplain, Mackiewicz spent a large part of his career in parishes in Salisbury, Marydel and Cambridge, as well as in Rehoboth Beach, Georgetown, Smyrna and Dover.
The victim charges that Mackiewicz, who was publicly identified as a known child abuser by then-Bishop Michael Saltarelli on Nov. 16, 2006, was a serial abuser who sexually abused numerous young boys and girls throughout his 30-year career at St. Francis de Sales, St. Thomas, Holy Rosary and many other parishes.
The lawsuit, filed in Sussex County Superior Court, also charges that the diocese had actual prior knowledge that Mackiewicz was sexually abusing young children before his transfer to St. Francis de Sales, but he was sent there anyway because of a longstanding shortage of priests in the diocese.
A priest in the Wilmington Diocese for 30 years, Mackiewicz retired in good standing in 1987. He died in 1994.
Friday's lawsuit builds on the separate cases recently filed by Mary Dougherty, former St. Francis de Sales altar boy David Dixon and Raymond Donahue. This is the 19th overall lawsuit by alleged victims arising from widespread childhood sexual abuse by pedophile priests in the Diocese of Wilmington.
Diocese officials were not available for comment Friday, but its Web site has a section that offers assistance and information on how to report abuse involving church employees. The Web site also states that in cases involving abuse, the diocese will attempt to settle claims filed in civil court through mediation.
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