Mixed Ruling in Luddy Case

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
October 26, 2000

A state Superior Court panel has ruled that the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown does not have to pay $ 1 million in punitive damages in the case of a priest who molested an altar boy who was both his godson and a parish member.

However, yesterday's 2-1 ruling let stand at least $ 869,000 in other awards to the former altar boy, who is now 32 and requires constant psychiatric care. Those judgments include a $ 50,000 punitive judgment against the priest, the Rev. Francis Luddy; $ 519,000 in compensatory damages against Luddy and the diocese; and delay damages that already had totaled more than $ 300,000 in 1994.

The suit was begun 12 years ago by the mother of the former altar boy, who lives with his parents in Ohio. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette does not identify victims in sexual assault cases.

The victim maintained Luddy first molested him when he was 10 or 11 years old and continued for six years. A Blair County Common Pleas Court jury heard the case and awarded $ 1.5 million in 1994. Two years later, Superior Court ruled that the diocese could not be held liable for the priest's misconduct. Last year, the state Supreme Court ordered Superior Court to rehear the case.

Luddy is banned from ministry and lives at a psychiatric facility for priests in New Mexico.


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