The Philadelphia law firm of Williams Cedar held a press conference on Monday, November 12 to announce the filing of a civil action against the Diocese of Allentown. The lawsuit stems from the alleged sexual abuse of the plaintiff by a Catholic priest named in the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report.
Attorney Gerald J. Williams of Williams Cedar hosted the press conference with co-counsel, Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel of Dallas, Texas, and Attorney Muhammad S. Aziz, a partner of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, Texas.
The complaint was filed in Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, Thirty-First Judicial District, in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The team is seeking compensation on behalf of the plaintiff, who was a minor when the sexual abuse occurred, for emotional, psychological, and financial damages arising from the abuse.
The defendants include former priest Bruno Tucci, who was one of more than 300 Catholic priests identified in the
Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August. The report detailed horrific acts of sexual abuse by priests across the Commonwealth. Additional defendants named in the lawsuit include the Diocese of Allentown; its current and immediate past bishops; and the religious order, the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete.
In addition to the abuse perpetrated by Tucci, the complaint alleges negligence on the part of the Diocese of Allentown and the past and current bishops of the Diocese. The claims include negligent supervision of priests employed in the Diocese, failure to screen priests properly, failure to investigate complaints, providing abusive priests with “cover” for their misconduct, failure to report criminal activity, failure to warn parishioners and protect children against predatory priests, failure to provide safe environments or create training and prevention programs to stop abuse, and reassigning abusive priests to other posts. The suit alleges that the abuse of the plaintiff committed by Tucci toward the plaintiff amounted to assault. It further alleges that it violated the plaintff’s right to bodily integrity, a “battery” under Pennsylvania law.
The suit alleges that the Diocese engaged in fraudulent concealment of abusive and predatory behavior by priests, thus putting the health and safety of the public and parishioners at risk. The complaint alleges that the negligence of the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete, to whom the Diocese sent Tucci for “rehabilitation”, improperly allowed the former priest to return to the ministry, failed to order his supervision or restrict his access to children, failed to warn Tucci’s congregation of the danger he presented, negligently claimed the ability to cure or rehabilitate child molesters and enabled the Diocese to continue concealment of criminal activity.
The law firm of Williams Cedar advocates for the rights of victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. From our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, the firm serves clients throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and nationwide. Williams Cedar offers free consultations, which can be arranged by calling 215-557-0099 or by contacting us online.