Lawsuits alleging sexual assaults filed against Jesuit seminarian, former PSU professor

By Sierra Darville
August 13, 2019

[with video]

Two lawsuits were filed Tuesday alleging a Jesuit seminarian and former Penn State Shenango professor sexually assaulted two children and raped one of them years after his superiors were made aware of his admission to crime against children.

According to a press release, Father Leonard Riforgiato was transferred from New York to Our Lady of Victory Church in State College.

The release states Riforgiato was an associate professor at the Shenango Valley Campus of Penn State, where he taught for 27 years, and focused on youth activities.

One of the lawsuits filed is on behalf of the abuse victim's estate. According to the release, the alleged victim took his life at age 32.

According to the release, "The lawsuits against the Jesuit Order, the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and their leaders is for institutional fraud and conspiracy to cover-up their complicity in the crimes against children."

Riforgiato died in 1999.

The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus released the following statement:

The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus is fully cooperating with all civil authorities and legal counsel on all matters regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.
Any instance of abuse by a religious person is a profound violation of trust that causes pain and damage for the abused and their families, local communities and the Church at large. The Jesuits stand by all victims and encourage them to come forward to report any instance of abuse in their efforts to seek justice and healing.
The USA Northeast Province has and will continue to strive to extend a healing presence to all victims of sexual abuse, while working toward eradicating sexual abuse from the Church and wider society.

The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown and Penn State University, per their respective spokespeople, declined to comment.


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