Former Altar Boy Testifies about Sex Activity with Priest

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)
February 15, 1994

A former altar boy whom the Rev. Francis Luddy admits molesting testified yesterday that the priest had sex with him at least 300 times over almost four years in the late 1970s.

To keep him quiet, the witness said, Luddy threatened "if I told anyone, he would destroy my baptismal records ... and condemn me to hell forever."

Luddy, a former Altoona-area Catholic priest, was not in the Blair County Common Pleas courtroom yesterday. His mother, who had been ill, died over the weekend in Philadelphia, prompting the priest to travel there while testimony went on without him.

Yesterday's main witness was the 28-year-old half brother of the plaintiff in the case, a 26-year-old Akron, Ohio, man who claims he was 11 when Luddy drew him into a sexual relationship that lasted six years. The plaintiff, who says he was a member of Luddy's Altoona parish when the molestation began, sued Luddy, the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese and its top officials.

The plaintiff's half brother testified for 3 1/2 hours yesterday, saying that Luddy lured him into a four-year sexual relationship, also beginning at age 11.

He said that one time he and Luddy were sleeping naked on the priest's bed when a rectory cleaning woman walked in. The priest jumped out of the bed and told the woman to leave the room, the witness said.

The witness also said he told two priests about his relationship with Luddy.

In 1981, the man said, he told a counselor at St. Francis College and the priest "assured me he would make the correct contacts and Father Luddy would receive help." The witness said the priest told him, "The church takes care of its own."

Later, sometime between 1981 and 1983, the witness said, he ran into a priest from a nearby parish while at a shopping mall and told him about Luddy.

Defense attorneys during cross-examination pointed out that yesterday's witness never said that Luddy had molested his half brother, the plaintiff.

The witness said he asked Luddy in 1982 whether his half brother had a relationship with the priest.

Luddy "became outraged," the witness recounted.

"And denied it?" defense lawyer Edward Glass asked.

"Yes sir," the witness said.

Unlike his half brother, the man said he did not file criminal charges or a civil suit against the priest "because I genuinely loved the man and never wished to bring that kind of harm to him."

While the man detailed his sexual encounters with Luddy, his stepfather cradled his forehead in his hand and his mother cried, her first show of emotion during the seven-day trial.

"My mother never heard the specific details until today," he said.


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