Lawsuit Alleging Sex Abuse of Altar Boy Is Settled by Allentown Diocese
By Emily Opilo
December 6, 2019
|The Allentown Diocese has settled a lawsuit with an unnamed former altar boy who alleged he was sexually molested by a diocesan priest, Father Bruno M. Tucci, between the ages of 10 and 12. (Rick Kintzel/The Morning Call)|
The Allentown Diocese has settled a lawsuit with an unnamed former altar boy who alleged he was sexually molested by a diocesan priest when he was between the ages of 10 and 12.
The lawsuit, which was filed in 2018 and named as defendants the diocese, former Priest Bruno M. Tucci, former Bishop Edward Cullen, Bishop Alfred Schlert and Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete, was settled last week, according to a motion to withdraw the suit filed in Lehigh County court.
The case was settled via mediation. The terms of the settlement were not outlined in the filing.
Matt Kerr, spokesman for the Allentown Diocese, said the terms of the deal will remain confidential at the request of the plaintiff. John Fioravanti Jr., attorney for the plaintiff, could not be reached for comment.
The plaintiff, identified as “John Doe," was the first to seek monetary damages from a Pennsylvania diocese based on a 2018 grand jury report into clergy sexual abuse, his attorneys said at the time. That report detailed more than 300 priests across the state accused of victimizing more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children.
The lawsuit alleged that Tucci groped Doe, now 30, when he was an altar boy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Nesquehoning between 1999 and 2001.
Tucci was among the priests named in the grand jury report. According to the report, the diocese became aware of allegations of sexual misconduct with children against Tucci in 1991, 20 years after he became a priest. The diocese sent Tucci to a treatment center, Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico, that the lawsuit alleged wasn’t qualified to treat pedophiles. One year later he was returned to ministry in Carbon County, where he remained until 2002, the lawsuit stated.
According to the lawsuit, Tucci had skin-to-skin contact with Doe and once told the boy to put his arms out “like Jesus on the cross,” undid his pants and fondled him.
The lawsuit claimed Doe’s sexual abuse resulted in chronic mental health issues, drug addiction and alcoholism. The experience negatively affected his academic performance and caused him to act out in destructive ways, the suit alleged, including conduct that led to his arrest and conviction on drug-related charges in 2012.
Unlike many cases outlined in the grand jury report, Doe’s case appeared to fall within Pennsylvania’s then statute of limitations for such crimes. Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law a bill eliminating that statute of limitations for future victims of sexual abuse, but the law does not apply retroactively.
Staff reporter Emily Opilo can be reached at email@example.com or 610-820-6522.