NJ law prompts clergy sex-abuse suit against Archdiocese of Philadelphia
By Jim Walsh
Cherry Hill Courier-Post
December 3, 2019
|An Arizona man has sued the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in Camden federal court, citing a New Jersey law that's relaxed the statute of limitations for people alleging childhood sex abuse.|
Photo by Jim Walsh
A former altar boy has sued the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in federal court here, alleging a parish priest sexually abused him during summer trips to the Jersey Shore.
The suit, brought by a 51-year-old Arizona man, was filed under a new law that extends the statute of limitations for civil claims alleging childhood sex abuse.
The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, contends he was sexually assaulted "hundreds of times from 1978 to 1982" by the Rev. James Brzyski, a Pennsylvania priest who faced similar accusations from multiple accusers before his death in 2017.
The lawsuit contends the Archdiocese of Philadelphia failed to protect Doe and other children from abusers in the clergy.
The suit says Brzyski's "sexual grooming" began when he helped the boy, then 10, change his altar boy garments at St. John the Evangelist Church in Lower Makefield, Bucks County.
It says Brzyski initially massaged the boy, then moved on to molesting him.
The lawsuit claims Bryzski sexually abused the boy in the sacristy and rectory at St. John the Evangelist parish in Lower Makefield, Bucks County, "and while on regular summer trips to a beach home in Forked River."
The alleged assaults in the Barnegat Bay community allow Doe to sue under the new law, according to the man's attorney.
The state law, which took effect Sunday, provides a two-year window for people previously barred from court action by time limits.
"There is overwhelming evidence that victims delay disclosing childhood sexual abuse due to confusion, denial, fear, shame, and self-blame," Mark Tanner, a Philadelphia lawyer, said Tuesday.
He commended New Jersey lawmakers "for their sensitivity to the lifelong struggles experienced by the victims of this unspeakable abuse."
A representative of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia did not respond to a request for comment.
The Archdiocesan website lists Brzyski, who left the clergy in 1985, under deceased clergy "with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor."
Brzyski was among the clergymen singled out by a Philadelphia grand jury that in 2005 cited accusations of sexual abuse against 120 priests in the archdiocese.
The report said it heard from 17 of Brzyski's accusers, including some who said he falsely claimed "that their parents knew and approved of his sexual abuse."
It said one man testified Brzyski kept hundreds of photos of boys, "many of them nude," in a box in his rectory bedroom.