Altoona: Bishop Denies Coverup

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette [Pennsylvania]
February 14, 2003

The head of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic diocese denied yesterday that he and his predecessor moved pedophile priests among posts to keep them a step ahead of their accusers.

"I deny and know of no such conspiracy; certainly not within the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown," Bishop Joseph Adamec said in the diocese's first response to a lawsuit that was filed last week.

The complaint, filed in Blair County Common Pleas Court, charges that five former altar boys -- three in Ebensburg, two in Altoona -- were molested by their parish priests from 1976 to 1985.

Altoona lawyer Richard Serbin says in the lawsuit that Monsignor Francis McCaa molested three youngsters while heading Holy Name parish in Ebensburg and that former priest Francis Luddy -- a target of a previous lawsuit that cost the diocese $1.2 million -- molested two boys at St. Therese Church in Altoona.

Serbin sued only the diocese, Adamec and retired Bishop James Hogan, charging they were involved in an ongoing coverup over the course of Adamec's 15 years as bishop.

Adamec, named bishop in 1987, called sexual abuse "deplorable," and noted that there had been no allegations of molestation during his tenure.

Luddy has been removed from the priesthood. McCaa, now retired, remains on the parish roster but was removed from Holy Name in 1985 and sent to a clergy post in West Virginia.


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