PHILADEPHIA: Nine Molestation Victims File Civil Suits Against Archdiocese
It never ends for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which yesterday was hit by another flurry of molestation lawsuits.
Eight men and a woman publicly accused Roman Catholic priests and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Tuesday of child sex abuse, saying they found courage to come forward after the conviction in June of a top church official in the wide-ranging pedophilia scandal. The nine filed civil lawsuits accusing the Archdiocese and church officials of conspiring to conceal incidents of sex abuse, failing to address the problem and ignoring complaints about abusive clergy, according to attorneys who announced the cases at a news conference in Philadelphia. Problems with abusive priests in the Philadelphia diocese had been flagged in a 2003 grand jury report that found church leaders failed to report abuse to authorities. These lawsuits cite alleged abuse dating back to 1970.Yesterday's new lawsuits come after Philadelphia Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty of covering up molestations. His conviction was the first-ever for a Catholic official not accused of committing such crimes himself. Also yesterday, lawyers for Lynn claimed that the priest named in his trial had falsely pleaded guilty in order to receive a light sentence. Therefore, the monsignor should go free on appeal.
In a motion in Superior Court, Lynn's lawyers say they learned last month that Avery gave prosecutors a statement, and took a polygraph test, in which he denied even knowing the victim, much less assaulting him twice after Masses at St. Jerome Church in Northeast Philadelphia. If Avery didn't abuse the boy, they argue, then how did Lynn endanger him? "At the very least, knowledge of this information would have affected the tactical decisions" of the defense, Thomas Bergstrom, Allison Khaskelis, and Alan Tauber wrote in their brief. Tasha Jamerson, a spokeswoman for District Attorney Seth Williams, said the office would have no comment until it filed its response with the court. The odds for Lynn remain long.