First Post-Grand Jury Child Abuse Lawsuit Filed Against Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese
Report Revealed Secret Files That Concealed Priest's History of Child Abuse
By: spk - law firm of Swensen & Perer
PITTSBURGH - Aug. 28, 2018 - PRLog -- This morning, Alan Perer filed a lawsuit on behalf of James Saitta, who as a child was sexually abused by a priest. The named defendants are the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Bishop David A. Zubik, and Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl.
This lawsuit may be the first that has been filed since the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report that showed the Diocese's continuous concealment of information about child sexual abusers whom it employed as priests, school officials, and child counselors.
The lawsuit is based on information in the Grand Jury Report taken from Diocese records including information regarding John S. Hoehl, who was employed as a priest, pastor, and later as a high school Headmaster by the Diocese.
The Grand Jury Report shows that more than 20 complaints of sexual abuse of children by Hoehl were in the secret Diocese files, most of which happened during the period while James Saitta was being abused. There was also a Canadian treatment center diagnosis of Hoehl as a "pedophile" and admitted sex offender. Remarkably, after the diagnosis, Hoehl was still employed as an "education consultant" by the Diocese (Grand Jury Report. 662-665).
The plaintiff, James Saitta, was sexually assaulted as a minor numerous times by Hoehl between 1979 and 1984, starting when Saitta was 12 years old. The abuse occurred at Hoehl's residence at the Quigley School in Baden and at his cabin in Somerset, PA.
Because of the conspiracy of silence and fraudulent concealment by the Diocese, Hoehl's sexual abuse history and diagnosis as a pedophile were hidden from James Saitta and his family. Had this evidence been known, a civil suit versus the Diocese could have been pursued within the statute of limitations. The concealment of this critical evidence provides a basis to extend the statute of limitations in Saitta's case.
As stated by the Grand Jury: the information in these documents was previously kept hidden from those whom it most affected. It is exposed now only because of the existence of this Grand Jury (Grand Jury Report. 6). It was the Grand Jury's power of subpoena that revealed this evidence, and the extent of the Diocese's concealment and complicity.
The case will seek expansion of the statute of limitations for past victims of abuse under existing Pennsylvania legal principles and accepted public policy.
A writ has been filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, and the defendants duly notified.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania released the Report of the Grand Jury investigating Child Sexual Abuse by Priests in six Pennsylvania Catholic Dioceses, including the Pittsburgh Diocese.
Alan Perer is managing partner at the SPK - the law firm of Swensen & Perer in Pittsburgh, PA. He has represented a large number of victims of child sexual abuse by priests. He has nearly 40 years experience in civil litigation and representing those who have been seriously injured. Wrongs righted. (R)
Alan Perer SPK- the law firm of Swensen & Perer