Sixth Man Sues Priest Who Taught at Sallies

By Beth Miller
The News Journal
February 5, 2009

A sixth man has filed suit in Delaware Superior Court against a priest who taught at Salesianum School in the 1980s, alleging that he, too, was sexually abused by the Rev. Dennis Killion.

In the suit, Joseph P. Duffany, now 42, says Killion sexually assaulted him many times -- in classrooms, in the student lounge and the sacristy to the chapel -- when he was a freshman at Salesianum in 1980-81.

He also alleges that school and church officials, as well as the religious order of which Killion is a member -- the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales -- knew or should have known of previous abuse allegations against Killion but kept the information secret and allowed Killion to continue as a teacher.

The lawsuit also alleges that Killion gave alcohol to Duffany on many occasions, said Michael Reck, an attorney with one of the three firms representing the plaintiffs.

The suit is the third filed against Killion. In August, four men filed suit for abuse they said occurred between 1983-86. Two of them reported the abuse at the time, but were told to be quiet about it because he would be transferred, attorneys for the plaintiffs said. Another man filed suit in September, alleging that Killion abused him while he was a student at Salesianum.

Killion worked at Salesianum until 1986, was transferred to Father Judge High School in Philadelphia, worked as a school activities director at Bishop Verot High School in Fort Myers, Fla., from 2006 to 2008, and also was assigned to a parish in Holland, Pa. The Oblates say Killion was placed on administrative leave in August, when they learned of the allegations in the lawsuit. Attorneys for the plaintiffs say officials knew of the allegations years before the suits were filed.

Killion now lives at the Oblates' retirement facility in Childs, Md.

In a prepared statement, the Rev. James J. Greenfield, provincial of the order, expressed regret and sorrow and said the order is "committed to protecting children from harm and abuse." He noted, too, that the order is accredited by the Texas-based firm Praesidium, which assists with abuse risk management and requires compliance with 25 standards.

"We are fully cooperating with the legal process where both parties discover the facts of the case," the statement said.

Robert Krebs, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, said it would be inappropriate for the diocese to comment on the case.

The suit was filed under the provisions of Delaware's 2007 Child Victim's Act, which allows child sexual abuse cases that previously would have been barred by the civil statute of limitations to be filed during a two-year "window." That window expires in July.

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or


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