Another Suit Alleges Clergy Sex Abuse

By Susan Phillips
The Newsworks
March 21, 2011

The Philadelphia Archdiocese faces its fourth clergy abuse lawsuit since the February announcement of a grand jury indictment charging church officials with a cover-up. An Arizona man says he was sexually abused while serving as an altar boy at Our Lady of Calvary parish in Northeast Philadelphia from 1988 to 1991.

The man identified as "John Doe #168" did not attend a news conference Monday where the suit was announced. His lawyer, Marci Hamilton, said he decided to file suit after reading about another lawsuit that named his alleged abuser.

Several weeks ago, Phil Gaughan stood before reporters and spoke about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Rev. John Gillespie at Our Lady of Calvary parish. On Monday, Gaughan stood before reporters again, this time to read the statement of John Doe # 168. An attorney held up the man's sixth-grade picture. Both men name Father Gillespie as their abuser.

Gaughan said since he came forward with his claims, he's heard from other victims.

"The first time I got a call, after talking to the guy for about 45 minutes, I called my wife and told her that it was the first time I've ever had tears of joy. Cause it is that good of a feeling to know they're not alone, I'm not alone and every other survivor out there is not alone," said Gaughan.

It's not the first time Gillespie's name has surfaced. He was named in the 2005 grand jury report as having allegedly abused children as far back as 1957. The lawsuit says archdiocese officials knew of his history but continued to give him access to children.

Defendants include Cardinals Justin Rigali and Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor William Lynn, as well as staff members assigned to help victims. Gillespie died in 2008.

The suit says the victims’ assistance program is not designed to help sex abuse victims. Instead, it says victims’ allegations are sent to diocesan lawyers, and used to protect church interests.

Attorneys say they have received dozens of calls from other victims, some with claims against priests who have never been identified as pedophiles. An archdiocese representative said there would be no comment on the case.


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