Catholic Diocese of Cleveland sued over child abuse allegations at former orphanage

WJW-TV, Fox - 8 [Cleveland OH]

March 22, 2023

By Jack Shea

The Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is among the plaintiffs in four lawsuits filed by women who say they were abused as children at the former Parmadale Family Services.

Known as Parmadale Children’s Village when it opened in 1925, the sprawling campus along State Road in Parma was for many years an orphanage run by Catholic Charities.

Parmadale eventually closed in 2014 and later fell to the wrecking ball, but many of the dark secrets about the treatment of children at Parmadale over the decades are just now being brought to light.

According to the new lawsuits, the women say they were subjected to systematic abuse by staff members at Parmadale and members of the Catholic clergy assigned to the orphanage.

“It made me sick to my stomach, truthfully. It made me appreciate that I had a mother to come home to every day,” said Attorney Bruce Taubman.

Taubman says the four women continue to pay a terrible price for the trauma they suffered as children at Parmadale.

“I mean, they have PTSD, they have recognized psychological disturbances, they’re probably never going to get any better and regardless of what kind of compensation they get, I don’t think it’s going to make up for the years of abuse,” he said.

In one of the lawsuits, a woman accused a priest of sexually abusing her inside his cottage on the Parmadale property and inviting other men to watch the abuse in the 1970s.

The Diocese of Cleveland says the priest, referred to in the lawsuit as “Father Leahy,” died in 2005.

In response to the lawsuits, the diocese issued a statement that reads, in part:

“The abuse of a child by those responsible for their care is a terrible sin, and the Diocese takes allegations of such abuse very seriously. The Diocese reported all allegations it received relating to Parmadale to civil authorities and offered counseling to anyone who reported having experienced abuse there. The Diocese of Cleveland is committed to creating a safe environment for children and fostering healing for those who have experienced abuse. Anyone with information or simply in need of help, can reach the diocesan confidential response line by phone at 216-334-2999 or email to”

The attorney for the four victims says in addition to damages, they are seeking an apology from those who placed them in Parmadale and turned a blind eye to the abuse.

“The Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese need to apologize for letting something like this go unabated for many years. They covered it up. They knew or they should have known about it. I think Cuyahoga County Family Services should also be held accountable because they dumped the children there like pieces of garbage,” said Taubman.

Meanwhile, the veteran attorney is urging state lawmakers to pass Ohio House Bill 266, which would extend the statute of limitations for other potential victims to report abuse they may have suffered at Parmadale and other facilities as children.