A Pennsylvania couple is suing the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, a Bucks County parish
and a priest who formerly worked at the church over claims that the man sexually assaulted the wife during a retreat last year.
Malvern, Pa. attorney Daniel F. Monahan and Washington Crossing, Pa. attorney Marci A. Hamilton filed suit at Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court April 4 against the archdiocese, the Order of St. Paul The First Hermit, the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and Father Marek Lacki.
According to the complaint, the female plaintiff, who is referred to as Jane Doe in order to protect her identity due to the fact that she was a victim of an alleged act of sexual assault, first met Lacki in early March of last year when the plaintiffs volunteered to assist with events at Rachel’s Vineyard, a church-sponsored couples retreat promoted by the Pauline Fathers and hosted at the place of worship.
The Pauline Fathers is a group that works with the Archdiocese to place priests in various parishes.
The plaintiffs attended the retreat at Our Lady of Czestochowa in honor of their wedding anniversary, the lawsuit states.
It was during this time, the complaint alleges, that Lacki encouraged the couple to drink alcohol with him and talk about the marital difficulties they were experiencing.
“He was very charming and encouraged them to be open with him,” the suit reads.
The suit says Lacki seemed particularly eager to learn about the couple’s sex life, and it was during this time that the defendant learned Jane Doe had been the victim of childhood sex abuse, and that she has suffered from depression and had trouble dealing with sex after having given birth to nine children, and gone through several miscarriages.
Following the retreat, the complaint states, Lacki insisted that Jane Doe come to a private room at the church and pray and discuss with the priest her childhood abuse issues in more detail.
On March 26, 2012, while in the church’s private room, Lacki allegedly sexually abused and assaulted the plaintiff against her will.
“He did so by grooming her, and then using physical, intellectual, moral, emotional and psychological force,” the complaint reads. “Despite repeated attempts by Plaintiff to ward off the assaults, it progressed to Lacki’s forcible digital rape of Plaintiff after which he smeared her menstrual blood on her face.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys went on to write that when detectives from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office attempted to question Lacki about the criminal allegations, the priest responded by saying the matter was under the seal of confession, and he would not discuss anything with the police.
Following what the plaintiffs’ lawyers call the district attorney’s failure to act, Lacki was removed from Our Lady of Czestochowa and, based upon information and belief, allowed to flee to Poland, his native land, to avoid further criminal and civil actions against himself and the other defendants.
The suit says that the church, the Pauline Fathers and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have routinely, either individually or collectively, shielded priests with “deviate sexual proclivities.”
The complaint accuses the other defendants of concealing the knowledge that Lacki had “deviate sexual interests,” and that each of them had a long history of concealing sexual abuse by clergy.
During a recent press conference in front of the Doylestown church to announce the lawsuit, Hamilton, who stood with Monahan, said that the plaintiff has “no other recourse in order to find justice other than to file this lawsuit for all the suffering that she and her family … have gone through.”
A video of the news conference was posted online by area news outlets.
Hamilton called the woman a “trusting, devout Catholic mother,” who was betrayed by the parish priest.
The attorneys originally filed the lawsuit with Philadelphia’s Common Pleas Court on April 3 using a pseudonym in place of the plaintiff’s real name, but the suit was sent back by the prothonotary because of the alias, Hamilton told the Pennsylvania Record in a brief email exchange.
Hamilton said she and Monahan filed a petition asking for the court to accept their clients as John and Jane Doe, which was attached to the complaint when the re-filed it on April 4.
The petition says that the plaintiffs should be allowed to proceed under pseudonyms because they could face shame and humiliation if publicly named due to the sensitive nature of the case.
The lawsuit contains counts of sexual abuse and vicarious liability, negligence, negligent supervision, and loss of consortium.
The couple seeks more than $50,000 in damages, plus interest, costs and other relief.
The case ID number is 130400886.