Greensburg diocese, Pennsylvania Legislature fiercely criticized by former child sex assault victim

By Sheldon Ingram
October 29, 2019

[with video]

Former child sex assault victim Joshua Kiley and his attorney Mitchell Garabedian unleashed scathing criticism of the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg and Bishop Edward Malesic during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

Kiley was a victim of sex assault at the age of 10, in 1992, by the Rev. John Sweeney at St. Mary Margaret Church in Lower Burrell. Sweeney is serving a prison sentence but Kiley and Garabedian are seeking a financial settlement.

Garabedian said Malesic has ignored his request to discuss a settlement with attorneys for the diocese.

"A woman who worked in the rectory walked in and gave Josh milk and cookies," he said, referring to the moments after the sex assault incident in 1992. "Does Bishop Malesic think we're going to accept his milk and cookies in a compensation program and then be ignored?"

Garabedian also criticized the state Legislature for not amending the statue of limitations regarding child sex assault victims.

In Pennsylvania, a victim has until the age of 30 to report cases. Advocates say the age limit should be raised to allow victims to navigate emotional hurdles during their early adult years.

A state grand jury report in 2018 revealed that 1,000 children were victims of sex assault by 300 priests in Pennsylvania during the past 70 years. Kiley says the church is influencing the Legislature to keep the statute of limitations as it is, out of fear for the sheer number of people who will come forward if it is raised.

"I believe the churches in Pennsylvania know they have a lot of victims here, and if the statues of limitations change, it'll cost them a lot of money," Kiley said.

Below is the full text of a statement issued by diocese spokesman Jerome Zufelt.

"The Diocese of Greensburg understands that survivors of abuse who have come forward to tell their stories have shown great courage. Bishop Malesic has made it clear that priests who have abused children have no place in ministry. They have forfeited the right to be called 'Father.' In his letter to parishioners in August, the bishop told them it is hard to say which reality is worse: the priests who abused children or the leaders who failed to protect them. These people robbed many of their childhood innocence and, in some cases, their faith.

"Contrary to what has been said, after Mr. Kiley came forward to authorities, and subsequently contacted the diocese with a $20 million settlement demand, he was offered the opportunity to participate in the Comprehensive Reconciliation Initiative, which included submitting a claim through the Diocese Survivors' Compensation Program. Mr. Garabedian, his attorney, declined that invitation. The Comprehensive Reconciliation Initiative also included counseling, spiritual guidance and pastoral care for anyone impacted by clergy abuse in the Diocese of Greensburg.

"Bishop Malesic has never turned down a request from a survivor for a meeting.

"In the case of John Sweeney, he was immediately removed from ministry the same day that the diocese was made aware of an allegation against him. This was the first allegation of any kind that the diocese received in regard to Fr. Sweeney. Since then, the diocese has cooperated fully with the investigation. As we have stated many times, if you have been abused, report it. If you suspect abuse, report it."



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