Daily Mail [London, United Kingdom]
June 28, 2023
By Melissa Koenig
- The children of Francis X Gallagher Jr filed a wrongful death suit Tuesday
- The law firm their grandfather founded, Gallagher, Evelius & Jones is defending the church in this suit
- When Francis came forward, the lawsuit claims, the church refused to act on his allegations and even ‘threatened’ him for naming his alleged abuser
A Baltimore legal dynasty famed for representing the city’s Catholic church is now suing the archdiocese, claiming that the son of a legal scion was sexually abused by a priest as a child — which ultimately drove him to a fatal overdose last year.
The children of Francis X. Gallagher Jr. filed the wrongful death suit Tuesday in the Baltimore Circuit Court, alleging that their father was sexually abused at the age of 14 while working the night shift as a receptionist at St. Mary’s Seminary.
When he came forward years later, the lawsuit claims, the church refused to act on his allegations and even ‘threatened’ him for naming his alleged abuser.
Flannery and Liam Gallagher are now suing the St. Sulpice Foundation — the religious order that runs the seminary — as well as the Archdiocese of Baltimore, seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
They are also said to be considering adding the law firm their grandfather founded, Gallagher, Evelius & Jones, which has defended the church — and is continuing to do so in this suit.
According to the lawsuit, Flannery and Liam’s grandfather, Francis X. Gallagher Sr., founded a law firm in 1961 that represented the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
‘Frank Sr. was, by all accounts, the AOB’s primary advisor in legal and political matters in the decade before he died,’ the suit claims.
‘In fact, Frank Sr. was named a Knight of St. Gregory, which was an honor bestowed in recognition of his personal service to the Catholic Church.’
He died in 1972, at just 43 years old, in the midst of a high-profile trial in which he was representing priests accused of anti-war activities.
The suit claims that his law firm, ‘while making millions from Frank Sr’s relationships and reputation,’ gave almost no financial support to his widow and five young children.
To help out the family, Frank Jr then took a night receptionist job at the seminary, where he was allegedly abused by the Rev. Mark Haight, who is now listed on the archdiocese’s compilation of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse.
A Maryland Attorney General’s report on sexual abuse within the clergy mentions Haight took a 14-year-old boy, a night receptionist at St. Mary’s, on a camping trip to Assateague Island, where he molested the boy in front of another seminarian, who said or did nothing.
The boy is not named in the report, but the Gallaghers insist it was their father.
Flannery, a DC lawyer herself, said at a news conference on Tuesday that she and her brother learned about their father’s alleged abuse in the early 2000s, when Francis Jr. was reaching out to the church about his abuse claims.
After he died last year, Flannery said, she and Liam found his exchanges with the Archdiocese in which he names his alleged abuser and seeks to determine whether any other child was molested by him.
Documents obtained by the Washington Post show he reached out in April 2002 to Baltimore Auxiliary Bishop William Francis Malooly, who would go on to become the bishop of Delaware, and Rev. Patrick Carrion, associate director of clergy personnel, to discuss Haight.
‘One of my many regrets is that it took me 28 years to come forward,’ Francis Jr. wrote in the letter. ‘The thought that my silence on this matter could have contributed to others being abused is something that I will have to live with forever.
‘I would therefore like to gain some understanding on a number of matters.’
But, the complaint says, the two men never replied.
Apparently desperate for answers, Francis Jr. then reached out to Bishop Howard Hubbard at the diocese in Albany, New York, where he knew Haight was working. He was removed from the priesthood in 1966.
Francis Jr. ultimately learned in June 2002 that Haight had abused other children in Albany and that Haight’s history ‘was not disclosed to any of the parishes in which he was assigned — no authorities were ever notified of Haight’s crimes,’ the suit alleges.
Just one month before, the complaint says, Francis Jr. wrote to Hubbard saying that by not taking action the ‘Church is continuing to visit injustice upon me, upon the victims who have come forward and upon the others who I am certain continue to suffer silently in unimaginable ways.
‘This is both shameful and cruel.’
He also wrote in a letter to St. Mary’s Seminary President Robert Leavitt in July 2002 how upset he was about the archdiocese’s lack of a response and said the seminary ‘has demonstrated not the slightest expression of an apology, let alone acknowledgement’ of the situation.
At that point, the complaint alleges the archdiocese ‘threatened’ Francis Jr. as he continued to push for it to include Haight’s name on its then-new list of priests and seminaries credibly accused of abuse.
If the archdiocese added Haight, the complaint alleges it told Francis Jr., it would also have to include his uncle, the Rev. Joe Gallagher, who was later deemed ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse.
But Francis allegedly told the church to include both names.
Haight’s name was finally added to the public list of clergy credibly accused of abuse in September 2002.
‘Our father’s trials were overwhelming and overwhelmingly unfair and undeserved,’ Flannery said at the news conference Tuesday morning.
‘His shame belongs to the defendants, so today, we hand it back to them.
‘There are countless people in our community who suffer because of the horrific scourge in the church,’ Flannery added. ‘We honor and stand with them.’
In a statement to the Washington Post, the archdiocese said it was ‘just learning of the pending litigation and cannot offer a response at this time.’
But, it said, ‘the archdiocese offers it deepest sympathies and prayers for the family.’
DailyMail.com has also reached out to the archdiocese and Gallagher, Evelius & Jones for comment.