PITTSBURGH – As the fallout from Pennsylvania’s clergy abuse scandal and the state grand jury report continues, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, its Bishop David A. Zubik and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl are the targets of a dozen new fraud-based lawsuits filed in the previous week.
Twelve lawsuits have been brought by the law firm of Swensen & Perer against the Diocese, Zubik and Wuerl, charging them with fraud in being aware that various priests within the ranks of the Diocese’s clergy had molested or raped children and teenagers in its parishes, but not disclosing this knowledge to members of the public or law enforcement.
“The suppression of the identity of dozens of pedophile priests and church employees was a fraudulent scheme to prevent the filing of the criminal and civil complaints against Diocesan defendants and the child predators they employed,” a John Doe plaintiff’s suit, one of the 12, reads.
“It was not until the release of the grand jury’s report that plaintiff discovered Diocesan defendants’ fraud and their complicity in a course of conduct designed to conceal massive numbers of child predators within the Diocese who had unsupervised access to children. As a direct and proximate result of the Diocesan defendants’ conduct in concealing, suppressing and distorting their knowledge of the major problem of child predator priests within the Diocese, plaintiff suffered injuries and damages.”
As a result, the plaintiffs suffered “humiliation, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, disgrace, guilt and shame”, in addition to “nervous system shock, exacerbation of mental anguish and trauma, headaches, nausea, loss of sleep, loss of enjoyment of life and a loss of earnings and earning capacity.”
These dozen new cases join ones which were filed earlier in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in the wake of the grand jury report’s release in August – in addition to a prospective class action filed in federal court that does not seek monetary damages, but instead, injunctive relief aimed at getting the Church to admit to a cover-up and release records related to clergy abuse reports.
Recently, Zubik said in an issued statement, “Faced with the sinful actions of the members of our own ranks of the clergy, who are called to manifest the example of Christ, we feel both shame and sorrow, and are reminded of our own sinfulness and the need for mercy.”
For counts of fraud, constructive fraud and fraudulent concealment, the plaintiffs are seeking damages, jointly and severally, in excess of the jurisdictional limits requiring arbitration, plus interest as allowed by law, costs and a trial by jury.
The plaintiffs are represented by Alan H. Perer of Swensen & Perer, in Pittsburgh.
The defendants have not yet secured legal counsel, per Court records.
Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas cases GD-18-014955, GD-18-014957, GD-18-014958, GD-18-014959, GD-18-014960, GD-18-014961, GD-18-014962, GD-18-014963, GD-18-014964, GD-18-014965, GD-18-014968 & GD-18-014969
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at email@example.com