Revelations of 85-year-old woman sexually abused by priest signals crisis dates back centuries

Patriot Ledger

July 31, 2019

By Ivey DeJesus

The investigations into clergy sex abuse in this country have generally gone back several decades.

Last year’s grand jury report into widespread clergy sex abuse in Pennsylvania, for instance, went back as far as the late 1940s.

On Wednesday the revelations of an 85-year-old victim out of the Diocese of Scranton points to the sobering possibility that the crisis dates far back into other centuries.

The woman, who is being referred to as “Jane Doe,” was six years old in 1940 when the late Rev. Martin J. Fleming began to sexually molest her, according to her attorney, Mitchell Garabedian.

Fleming, who at the time was assigned to Holy Name Parish in Swoyerville, was ordained in 1898. Jane Doe was a parishioner at Holy Name Parish.

Jane Doe is not filing a lawsuit, but wanted to make public the priest’s name, said Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims in the Archdiocese of Boston.

“She wanted her perpetrator’s name out there,” he said. “He was ordained in 1898. There is no telling how many children he molested. It’s indicative of how far back the clergy sex abuse crisis goes back.”

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