November 16, 2020
By Terrie Morgan-Besecker
Three more people who allege they were sexually abused by priests as children filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Scranton.
Two of the lawsuits were filed by men who allege they were molested at St. Dominic’s Parish in Wilkes-Barre in the early 1970s. The third suit, filed by a female, alleges a priest at St. Ignatius Church in Kingston raped her in 1972, when she was 7.
The lawsuits are among dozens of lawsuits filed against the diocese on behalf of abuse victims.
Two of the most recent complaints filed by Kingston attorney Kevin Quinn relate to abuse at St. Dominic’s. One man alleges he was molested at age 11 by the Rev. Gerald Burns in 1972, while the other man was abused at age 7, by the Rev. William Culnane, in 1971. The third suit identifies the Rev. Neil McLaughlin, who was a member of the Society of Jesus but served in the diocese, as the abuser.
Each lawsuit alleges church officials knew the clergy members were abusing children, but instead of stopping it they transferred them to other parishes. The suits name as defendants the Diocese of Scranton, retired Bishop James Timlin and current Bishop Joseph Bambera.
Eric Deabill, spokesman for the diocese, said the diocese does not comment on pending litigation.
The allegations against Culnane were filed by Jeffery A. Stucker of Wilkes-Barre, who claims Culnane once forced him to perform oral sex on Culnane behind the church’s altar. He also groped and penetrated him two other times.
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