Suit Says Phila. Archdiocese Protected Abuser

By John P. Martin
Philadelphia Inquirer
May 10, 2011

An Arizona man on Monday sued the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, saying church officials allegedly protected a sexually abusive priest who he said molested him at his Northeast Philadelphia parish and caused him years of psychiatric problems.

Identified by his attorneys only as a 32-year-old named Matthew, the man claims in the suit that he was abused as a teenager in 1993 and 1994 by the Rev. Robert L. Brennan when the priest was assigned to Resurrection of Our Lord Parish on Vista Street.

A 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on abusive priests accused Brennan of suspicious or inappropriate behavior with at least 20 boys during his tenure. The next year, the archdiocese removed Brennan from the ministry after it said it had substantiated an abuse claim against him.

Brennan served in nine parishes around the region between 1964 and 2004. Now 73, he lives in Maryland, records show. He could not be reached Monday.

The Arizona man's lawsuit says he attempted suicide and has been hospitalized multiple times since being abused by the priest. He now lives with his father, who filed the suit on his behalf.

It accuses archdiocesan officials, including Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali, of fraud, civil conspiracy, and endangerment for giving Brennan posts with access to children despite questions about behavior. Archdiocesan officials declined comment.

The lawsuit was the sixth filed since a Philadelphia grand jury report in February faulted the archdiocese for falling short on its pledge to expel abusers and respond to victims.

Lawyers Jeff Anderson, Marci Hamilton, and Dan Monahan, who filed all of the lawsuits, said they will argue that the allegations in this case are legally viable despite its being 17 years old because the statute of limitations does not apply to mentally disabled plaintiffs.

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