8 More Lawsuits Filed against Diocese over Sex Charges

By Jim McKinnon and Ann Rodgers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
September 30, 2004

Eight more lawsuits were filed yesterday against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, charging that six priests who have served at churches in the diocese molested children in years past.

Three of the priests have been named in prior suits, and a fourth was notorious for sex crimes in the 1960s and 1970s.

The complaints, filed yesterday by Pittsburgh attorney Alan Perer, brings to 33 the number filed by his firm.

The three priests previously unnamed in the suits are Richard Ginder, formerly of St. Anselm Church in Swissvale; George Parme, formerly of St. Aloysius Church in Wilmerding; and Robert Castelucci, formerly of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Braddock.

Three priests named in yesterday's suits have been mentioned in previous complaints. They are the Rev. Joseph Karabin, of Holy Name Church in Duquesne; the Rev. Lawrence O'Connell, of St. Gabriel Church of the Sorrowful Virgin in Whitehall; and the Rev. Charles J. Chatt, of St. Anne Church in Castle Shannon.

The time limit has expired for filing complaints against each priest individually. So, Perer's suits have been filed against the diocese, charging that the church knew of incidents of molestation and did little or nothing to stop it.

Diocesan officials yesterday vehemently denied the allegation of a conspiracy to conceal abuse.

"As in all previous suits, the attorneys have failed to provide any evidence that leadership in the diocese did not respond to protect children once a case of abuse became known to them," said a diocesan press release.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, spokesman for the diocese, also denied a statement in the suit that Bishop Donald Wuerl had met with Karabin's accuser in 1992. There is no record of such a meeting, he said.

Castelucci withdrew from ministry in 2002; Parme retired in 1989 and died in 2002; and Ginder died in 1984 of injuries he suffered in a car crash, Lengwin said.

Of the previously named priests, O'Connell died in 1986 before any allegations were made against him; and Chatt went on leave from ministry in 1992 and withdrew from priestly ministry in 2003, Lengwin said.


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