Former altar boys sue Pittsburgh diocese alleging years of sexual abuse
By Tom Davidson
November 20, 2019
Two former altar boys have accused a priest of almost daily sexual abuse for more than three years in the 1980s, according to a 27-page lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop David A. Zubik and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in McDonald.
The diocese has yet to be served with the suit, which was filed Tuesday in Allegheny County Court, according to spokeswoman Ellen Mady. Mady said she couldn’t comment on pending litigation.
The suit was filed on behalf of two men who are represented by Texas-based attorneys.
The Rev. Francis Pucci is the priest accused of the abuse, which allegedly started in 1981 when the boys were 11 and 13. Pucci groomed both boys and others who served as altar boys at the church, according to the lawsuit.
Pucci’s alleged actions were mentioned in a grand jury report of priest sexual abuse in Pennsylvania released last year. Pucci was said to be part of a ring of predatory priests who preyed on children in the Pittsburgh Diocese, according to the lawsuit.
In 1988, abuse by Pucci was investigated but not prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired, according to the lawsuit.
Pucci retired in 1992 and died in 2002.
Pucci, who was ordained in 1957 and served as a priest for 30 years, was transferred to different parishes 13 times in his career.
He spent the last five years of his priesthood on what the church called medical leave. The lawsuit states that leave was treatment for sexual disorders.
The suit alleges a diocesan cover-up of abuse and concealment of Pucci’s alleged actions even after his death to protect the reputation of the church and its priests, according to the suit.
The men were unable to come forward with their claims until now because of shame, self-blame and self-doubt, according to the lawsuit.