Man abused by priest found dead in Ohio home
April 7, 2012 12:00 am
/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The plaintiff in a landmark priest-abuse lawsuit against the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese has been found dead at his Ohio home at age 44.
Attorney Richard Serbin told the Altoona Mirror that his former client, Michael Hutchison, was found dead in Akron on Wednesday.
Gary Gunther, chief investigator for the Summit County medical examiner’s office, said the cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results, which will take at least three weeks.
“There are no signs of foul play,” Mr. Gunther said. “It’s probably going to be either a natural or an accident. There is no indication of suicide — there was no suicide note and no one we spoke with mentioned him being suicidal.”
Mr. Hutchison’s mother, Mary, sued the diocese in 1987 alleging church officials covered up the abuse of her son by a since-defrocked priest, Francis Luddy, who was also a family friend.
A Blair County jury awarded Mr. Hutchison more than $1 million after a 1994 trial, but that ballooned to $2.7 million by 2008 including interest and delayed damages due to numerous appeals.
Mr. Hutchison spoke out against abuse, and Mr. Serbin said Mr. Hutchison “suffered from age 10 on.”