The father of a mentally disabled man filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia May 9 alleging his son suffered sexual abuse at the hands of a parish priest while working in the rectory of Resurrection of Our Lord parish in Philadelphia.
The plaintiff’s identity is not disclosed in the lawsuit. The complaint states that he was a minor when he suffered the abuse, which is alleged to have occurred between 1993 and 1994.
The lawsuit was jointly filed by Exton, Pa.-based attorney Daniel Monahan, of Monahan Law Practice P.C., and Washington Crossing, Pa.-based lawyer Marci Hamilton.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of a grand jury report issued by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office in January of this year, which established that the Archdiocese has a long history of sexual abuse of children by priests within its organization.
The personal injury civil action names as defendants the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, current Cardinal Justin Rigali, Monsignor William Lynn and Father Robert Brennan. The latter is the priest who allegedly inflicted the abuse upon the plaintiff.
The lawsuit claims that “Cardinal Bevilacqua, Msgr. Lynn and the Archdiocese were aware or should have been aware that Fr. Brennan had sexually abused children,” because of a history of incidents dating back to the late 1980s in which former colleagues reported various concerns about Brennan’s alleged unhealthy relationship with church youth.
Despite such warnings to church officials, “the Archdiocese continued to ignore reports
that Fr. Brennan was being sexually inappropriate with parish boys,” the lawsuit states.
Former Cardinal Bevilacqua is named as a defendant in the suit because he headed up the Archdiocese during the time of the alleged sexual abuse against the plaintiff, according to the complaint. Similarly, Monsignor Lynn was Secretary of Clergy under Bevilacqua, and is believed to have acted as personnel director for priests in the region, hence his status as a co-defendant.
“Msgr. William Lynn assisted priests who he knew to have sexually abused children to obtain new assignments within the Archdiocese in order to conceal their criminal activity and protect the Archdiocese’s reputation,” the lawsuit states, citing the District Attorney’s 2011 grand jury report.
In the civil suit, the plaintiff’s attorneys accuse the defendants of one count of “civil conspiracy to endanger children,” and state that the plaintiff has standing to bring this claim because he was one of the abused children, and one count of “actual fraud.”
The lawsuit states that as a result of the alleged abuse, the plaintiff has suffered, and continues to suffer, physical pain, mental anguish, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life. He will continue to undergo medical treatment, therapy and counseling.
The plaintiff is seeking compensatory and punitive damages against the defendants in an amount in excess of $50,000, together with interest and court costs.
The plaintiff has demanded a jury trial.
According to the complaint, Brennan was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1964. He currently resides in Cecil County, Maryland.
The case number is 110500870.