Catholic Diocese of Erie Facing New Lawsuit
By Samiar Nefzi
WJET-TV 24 ABC
July 24, 2020
The Catholic Diocese of Erie is now facing a new lawsuit from three victims ranging from as far back as the mid-1970’s.
This new lawsuit comes as we near the two year anniversary of the grand jury report on the Catholic Church.
These recent claims are related to similar ones from the alleged cover up.
A high-profile sex abuse lawyer has filed a suit against the Diocese of Erie.
The three victims were identified by initials, all children at the time with the lawsuit suggesting J.A., 12 years old in 1978 was abused by Father Michael Barletta, W.C., 15 years old in 1983 was abused by Clergy Chester Gawronski and K.M. who was seven years old in 1975 was abused by Priest Fidelis G. Lazar.
“The abuse survivors still live with it everyday, I do not think it is fair or right that an institution gets to move on with itself and say look those are the sins of the past when there are thousands of people struggling today,” said attorney Nate Foote.
Attorney Nate Foote explained these suits will help make an institution stronger by dealing with the allegations.
Bishop Lawrence Persico said now the C.D.O.E is having to deal with mistakes made in the past.
“When you hide things in the dark, there’s a tendency they are going to come out and I feel that now, during my time as the Bishop that we have to deal with this,” said Persico.
Persico said since 2018 the Diocese has updated its protocols and policies.
“I think it will take a long time for the healing, there are some victims who still feel the pain,” Persico added.
Foote said he hopes the lawsuits go beyond a feeling of justice.
“It’s sort of like ripping off a band-aid, our clients feel empowered, they feel better, feel a sense of closure, even if it’s at 75 years old, that’s an important step for people to take,” said Foote.
Bishop Persico said under his leadership he will try to assist all victims to the best of his ability adding they can always reach out to him if they wish.