Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh accuses priest of rape


August 7, 2020

By Paula Reed Ward

A man who immigrated to the United States at age 13 from Italy is suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging that he was sexually assaulted by a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish in Bloomfield twice in 1967.

The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, also names as defendants the church, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and current Bishop David Zubik.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said they had not yet been served the complaint and that they do not comment on pending litigation.

Gennaro Greco was 13 when he moved with his family to Pittsburgh in 1963, according to the complaint. At the time, he did not know how to speak English, which his attorney said made him particularly vulnerable for abuse. He was put back two years in school, making him older and larger than other students in his class. Greco became an altar boy at Conception Parish, it said, and volunteered there with cleaning and other chores.

Twice, the lawsuit said, when he was helping to clean walls in the rectory, the Rev. Leo Burchianti took him aside, stripped off his clothes and raped him. The lawsuit said that the diocese and its bishops knew of the abuse but concealed it to preserve the church’s reputation. Shortly after the assaults, the lawsuit said, Burchianti was transferred to another parish. According to the 40th Statewide Grand Jury report, released nearly two years ago, Burchianti was moved to Our Lady of Grace in Scott in June 1968.

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