Survivors of childhood sexual abuse allegedly committed in Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic Churches want to see predator priests brought to justice. After the recent release of a grand jury report identifying over 300 “predator priests” who allegedly abused at least 1,000 children in six different dioceses, plaintiffs filed a new lawsuit on September 17th, 2018.
They claim the dioceses failed to report the incidences to law enforcement, as required by Pennsylvania law, and continue to conceal information on the perpetrators. They want the court to order the church to reveal the identities of all the priests with child abuse allegations made against them.
Plaintiffs Believe There’s More Information Available
The York Daily Record reports that a Pennsylvania man and a Catholic school student are the representative plaintiffs in the case, and they seek class-action status to represent all victims who were abused. The adult plaintiff claims that he was a victim of abuse between the ages of 10 and 12. The child is represented by his mother, who is active in the child’s Catholic school.
The case was filed in the Allegheny Common Pleas Court and alleges the church has continually covered up the abuse while protecting abusers. The plaintiffs hope the court will require the church to disclose the identity of the predator priests in order to protect other children and let people know about individuals in their communities who may be dangerous.
The grand jury report contained redacted names of clergy, and only 10 of the 300 priests identified have been registered as sex offenders. Because of these facts, and since the church contains meticulous records, plaintiffs believe there are likely to be files that contain damaging information that have not yet been shared with the public or with law enforcement.
The Washington Post reports that the grand jury took 18 months to investigate Pennsylvania’s dioceses and that they reviewed more than two million documents, including some from the church’s “secret archives.”
Plaintiffs Want Public Transparency on Catholic Church Child Abuse
According to the grand jury report, most of the incidences of abuse cannot be prosecuted because too much time has passed. The Pennsylvania statute of limitations on child abuse allows criminal cases to be filed up until the victim turns 50, and civil cases to be filed up until the victim turns 30. That eliminates most of the cases identified in the report. Unless the laws change, the victims will receive no compensation for their suffering.
This case, however, is different and is not subject to the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs are not seeking money or criminal charges. Instead, they are seeking public transparency. They want all the dioceses in Pennsylvania to release all the information they gave the grand jury to the public, and to allow reporters to review the records to ensure they are accurate and have been sent to law enforcement, as required by law.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.