Former Pittsburgh Bishop Accused Of Child Sex Abuse In Lawsuit

By Eric Heyl
Pittsburgh Patch
September 07, 2018

Two lawsuits were filed Friday against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Former Pittsburgh Bishop Anthony Bevilacqua and two priests were accused of sexual abuse in one of two civil lawsuits filed Friday in the aftermath of the recent grand jury report detailing the sex crimes of Pennsylvania predator priests.

Pittsburgh attorney Alan Perer filed the lawsuits against the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop David Zubik and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C, Zubik's predecessor as bishop.

The lawsuit in which Bevilacqua and the Revs. Lawrence O'Connell and Edward Huff are named was filed on behalf of Heather Taylor, 45, of San Diego woman. It accuses the trio of allegedly assaulting her from when she was between the ages of 5 and 13 between 1978 and 1985. The incidents occurred at St. Gabriel Church and St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Virgin School in Whitehall.

Bevilacqua was Pittsburgh's bishop from 1983 until 1987, when Pope John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Philadelphia. He became a cardinal in 1991 and retired in 2003. He died in 2012.

Perer filed another lawsuit on behalf of David Rebholz of Rhode Island, who said he was sexually assaulted by the Rev. William O'Malley of St. Canice Church in Knoxville when he was 11 or 12.

Last month, Perer filed a lawsuit on behalf of James Saitta contending he was sexually assaulted as numerous times by the Rev. John S. Hoehl between 1979 and 1984.The alleged abuse, which began when Saitta was 12, occurred at Hoehl's residence at the Quigley School in Baden, Beaver County, and at his cabin in Somerset.

Because of the cover-up of Hoehl's sexual abuse history, Saitta was unable to file a civil lawsuit against the diocese within the existing statute of limitations, the lawsuit asserted.

The lawsuits have been filed in the wake of the grand jury report identified more than 300 predator priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses, 99 of whom were from Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania Attorney Genral Josh Shapiro has accused Zubik and Wuerl of covering up the crimes.

Both men have denied that charge.


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