8 New Priest Child-Sex Abuse Lawsuits
By Jackie Gailey| Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012 | Updated 7:21 PM EDT
Eight new civil lawsuits claiming the Archdiocese of Philadelphia covered up child sex abuse allegations are being filed in Philadelphia.
Two alleged victims of priest sex abuse spoke at a news conference on Tuesday, about their experiences and why they decided not to conceal their identities in the civil lawsuits.
Andrew Druding and Michael McDonnell are two of nine plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits naming the Archdiocese, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Cardinal Justin Rigali and Msgr. William Lynn.
Seven priests are also named in the complaints, they are: Msgr. Francis Feret, St.Timothy’s School, Northeast Philadelphia; Fr. John H. Mulholland, Holy Child Parish, Manayunk; Fr. John P. Schmeer, Roman Catholic High School, Philadelphia; St. Anastasia School, Newtown Square, PA; Edward Avery (Defrocked), St. Bernadette’s, Drexel Hill, PA.; Father Robert L Brennan, St. Marks School, Philadelphia; Resurrection of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Joseph J Gallagher, Ascension of our Lord, Philadelphia; Father Francis X. Trauger, St. Titus, Norristown.
Lynn, the former secretary for clergy at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was convicted in June of child endangerment for failing to oust then-priest Edward Avery after a 1992 sex abuse complaint. Lynn is serving three to six years in prison.
Common Pleas Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said Lynn enabled “monsters in clerical garb…. to destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart.”
“After two grand jury investigations in the city of philly that comprehensively covered the cover up by the archdiocese and the conviction of Msgr. Lynn for endangering children and after the guilty plea by defrocked priest Avery, we know for a certainty that there is an ongoing conspiracy to endanger children and to cover up for the benefit of the Archdiocese,” said co-counsel Marci Hamilton.
The lawsuits claim procedures supposedly implemented by the Archdiocese to help victims of sexual abuse where instead used to assist the abusive priests and the Archdiocese to avoid liability.
Victims were falsely assured by the Archdiocese that statements made to the archdiocese would be confidential but instead the statements were turned over to Archdiocese attorneys and used to build defenses for the Archdiocese and to impeach victims, according to the lawsuits.
McDonnell, whose complaint alleges abuse by two priests, read the following statement at Tuesday’s news conference, “I speak not only for myself but for the countless others who suffered adolescent horror — you are not alone. Today is not just about seeking justice, but also, as it was written by President John F. Kennedy, about ‘our most admirable human virtue- courage.’ As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse by the clergy, I can tell you that there is no doubt that the conspiracy to cover-up the grave moral actions by the clergy started long before these tragedies ever became public. It was protocol. It is today that courage brings me here, it is today that more will be revealed.”
The Philadelphia Archdiocese released this statement to NBC10, “We have not received copies of the cases that the plaintiffs have said they intend to file, so we cannot provide more detailed information on those particular lawsuits at this time. We believe lawsuits are not the best mechanism to promote healing in the context of the very private and difficult circumstances of sexual abuse. We will work to assure all victims of sexual abuse receive appropriate assistance.”
The Archdiocese told NBC10 the status of the priests named in the lawsuits are as follows: Avery has been removed from the clerical state; Brennan has been out of the ministry since 2006; Feret was found unsuitable for ministry by Archbishop Chaput in May 2012; Gallagher remains on administrative leave following the 2011 grand jury report; Mulholland was removed from the clerical state in 2008; Schmeer has accepted a supervised life of prayer and penance; and Trauger was removed from the clerical state in 2005.