The Philadelphia law firm of Williams Cedar held a press conference to announce the filing of a civil lawsuit against a former priest from the Scranton Diocese. The lawsuit originates from allegations of sexual abuse of the plaintiff by a former Catholic priest named in the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report.
The press conference was held on Tuesday, November 27 at 11 a.m. at the Lackawanna Station Hotel in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Attorney Gerald J. Williams of Williams Cedar hosted the press conference with co-counsel, Attorney Michelle Simpson Tuegel from Dallas, Texas. Attorney Muhammad S. Aziz, a partner of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Sorrels, Agosto & Aziz in Houston, Texas is also co-counsel in the suit.
The law firm of Williams Cedar with co-counsel Michelle Simpson Tuegel and Muhammad S. Aziz filed a complaint with the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas, Forty-Fifth Judicial District, in Scranton, 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 that resulted from the abuse.
The defendants include former priest W. Jeffrey Paulish, who was named among over 300 Catholic priests in the Pennsylvania grand jury report released in August. The report described horrific acts of sexual abuse by priests across the Commonwealth. Other defendants named in the lawsuit include the Diocese of Scranton as well as former and current bishops.
The complaint alleges that the former priest abused the plaintiff through several instances of inappropriate touching and unwanted physical contact.
The suit alleges that Paulish was a longtime sexual abuser and molester of children during his 25-year tenure with the priesthood. It further alleges that Paulish was transferred or reassigned 11 times and placed twice under leaves of absence due to his sexually abusive conduct. In 2013, Paulish pled guilty to the corruption of a minor and was sentenced eight to 23 months in prison after being arrested for engaging in sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy, which ended his career.
The suit alleges that the Diocese of Scranton and current and former bishops acted with negligence in the supervision of multiple priests under their direction. The claims include the concealment and cover-up of the predatory and pedophilic actions of priests within the organization, failure to protect children from the abuse of diocesan priests, and failure to penalize the abusive priests or prevent the misconduct from occurring.
The suit alleges that the bishops frequently transferred or reassigned abusive priests in order to avoid disclosing their wrongdoings; and placed abusive priests on temporary leaves of absence and returned them to the ministry with access to children. The complaint further alleges the bishops induced victims to remain silent about the abuse they endured and failed to report criminal and sexually abusive conduct to law enforcement authorities or intervened in order to protect the abusive priests.
The complaint alleges that the Diocese and its bishops allowed the abusive priests to continue to reside without any repercussions within the community and failed to inform the public and parishioners of the church and diocese.
The law firm of Williams Cedar champions the rights of victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The firm’s attorneys also represent clients in matters of environmental toxic tort, whistleblower claims, personal injury cases, and civil rights violations. From their 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 contacting them online.