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Catholic dioceses sued over the disclosure of abuse allegations

PHILADELPHIA – the Parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and the survivors of sexual abuse by priests, filed a lawsuit Monday against Pennsylvania’s eight dioceses and their bishops, and asked the court to compel them to release information about the allegations of abuse.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Pittsburgh comes a month after a state grand jury report detailed allegations of sexual abuse against more than 300 priests in the past decades, six of the dioceses. The lawsuit claims the diocese have not met their obligations to report sexual abusers under the legislation of a member state.

Benjamin Sweet, a lawyer for the lead plaintiffs in the case said, they are not looking to make money, but instead ask for public transparency about the allegations. Many of the victims who came forward to talk to the grand jury fall outside the statute of limitations for filing a civil personal injury lawsuit. The lawsuit filed Monday is not for compensation and represent not only the victims of abuse, so Sweet said that it is not forbidden by a statute of limitations.

“From our perspective, this is completely about disclosure, and the confession and allowing these predator priests to be named. The concealment of these priests is a continuation of the slap in the face of these survivors. It is a continual slap in the face to the parents who have confidence in these churches and institutions for the education of these children,” he said.

The process requires a court order to force the dioceses to be better imposed on reporters for sexual abuse allegations. It also asks in order to force the dioceses to release all of the information they had given to the grand jury of the public, and to provide a mechanism for journalists to review records to ensure that their allegations are accurate and sent to the proper enforcement of the law or the government.

Spokesmen for a number of the state dioceses said they could not comment on the lawsuit because they had not seen. Messages on several other dioceses Monday were not immediately returned.

The spokespersons for the Greensburg, Pittsburgh, and Allentown dioceses reiterated their written responses to the grand jury report, saying all allegations of abuse of minors be reported to law enforcement.

“In the Diocese of Greensburg, every complaint, regardless of the credibility, is immediately called in Pennsylvania ChildLine and reported to the appropriate officer of justice, or the assertion is minutes old or 70 years old,” Greensburg Diocese spokesman Jerry Zufelt said.

The lawsuit, however, believes that the 20 names of clergy who have edited in the grand jury report, together with the fact that it says that only 10 of the 300 priests named in the report are registered sex offenders under the federal Megan’s Law, lead the parents and relatives to believe that the state lottery has still not been transparent.

Clergy abuse survivor Ryan O’connor, one of the lead plaintiffs in the case realized years after his abuse, which he needed for his faith to be healed. His children to a Catholic school, but O’connor said that he would be lying if he said that he trusted that all the priests who they come in contact.

“This is not about money or looking for damage. This is about transparency; this is about honesty. This is about the parents to know that we are going to create. This is about the church saying we’re going to get rid of these bad operators and we are going to no longer protect,” O’connor said. “This is about protecting my children, their classmates, and each child who steps foot into a Catholic school or at mass as an altar server.”

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