Religious Order Target of Sexual Abuse Lawsuit

By David Madden
June 18, 2009

A lawsuit has been filed in Delaware on behalf of a former student at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia who alleges a priest molested him while in his freshman year in 1991.

The suit contends the late Father John McDevitt coerced then-14-year-old Richard Green -- a nephew of deceased New York Cardinal John O'Connor -- in the 1990-91 school year. Green,now 31, is represented by attorney Michael Reck. As for McDevitt:

"He threatened him with low grades in his religion class in order to entice him into private tutoring sessions, and during the private tutoring sessions, he proceeded to sexually abuse the plaintiff."

The suit was filed in Delaware, where McDevitt's order, the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, is located. The suit contends McDevitt was transferred to Father Judge from Salesianum High in Wilmington after similar allegations first surfaced.

A spokesman for the order has declined comment on the suit,but says Green was offered counseling once the order was made aware of his allegations.

The order has posted a statement on its website, which reads, in part:

In response to allegations of sexual abuse against a member of his religious community who served at Salesianum School, Rev. James J. Greenfield, OSFS, provincial of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, today again acknowledged the deep pain, anguish, and anger that victims of childhood sexual abuse experience.

"I realize that this suit alleges abuse from an Oblate priest who has died. Sexual abuse is so serious an offense that its impact lives well beyond the life of the abuser. If this abuse occurred, we must work to be ministers of healing," Fr. Greenfield said.


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