Pa. Woman Alleges Sex Abuse by Now-Deceased Priest

By Beth Miller
The News Journal
May 13, 2009

A Pennsylvania woman today filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown, Pa., in Superior Court of New Castle County, alleging child sexual abuse by a now-deceased Allentown, Pa., priest – some of which she says occurred when she lived in Smyrna.

The woman, Sharon Tell, claims the late Rev. James J. McHale started to abuse her in 1964, when she was a 12-year-old parishioner at Notre Dame of Bethlehem, Pa., where McHale was the parish priest. Tell’s family moved to Smyrna in 1966, according to the suit, and Tell says McHale often visited the Delaware home.

The abuse and intimidation continued into Tell’s adulthood -- until 1984, the suit says.

Diocese officials did not immediately return calls requesting comment. Tell and her attorneys planned an afternoon press conference in Allentown.

The lawsuit, filed by Wilmington attorney Tom Conaty and St. Paul, Minn., attorney Jeffrey Anderson, was filed under the provisions of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victim’s Act, which opened a two-year window during which cases that would otherwise have been barred by the statute of limitations could be filed.

The two-year period expires in July.

Contact Beth Miller at 324-2784 or


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