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Wrongful Death Suit Filed Against Archdiocese Of Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The family of a Pennsylvania man who killed himself after his allegation of sexual abuse by a priest was dismissed has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

The suit was filed Wednesday in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by the family of a man identified as “Ben” in a scathing grand jury report that alleges the archdiocese covered up sex abuse cases (see related story).

The lawsuit says “Ben” was abused in the 1980s by the Rev. Joseph Gallagher, a priest who had previously been accused of sex abuse. “Ben” killed himself after the archdiocese deemed his allegations not credible in 2008 (see previous story).

Gallagher was suspended in February. An archdiocese spokesman declined to comment on the suit.

(© Copyright 2011, Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Michael Skiendzielewski

    Where is the legal counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia throughout all of these horrible, evil and irresponsible actions and decisions on the part of archdiocesan leadership? Is legal counsel (William Sasso, Chairman, Stradley and Ronon) ever responsible to protect the children, the innocent victims, those who suffer from the moment of abuse and forward throughout the remainder of their painful, depressed and nightmare-ridden lives?

    At the highest levels of Philadelphia archdiocesan leadership, there are two influential clergy members who themselves are civil attorneys. What are their legal, ethical and moral responsibilitie s in response to the criminal and life-destroying conduct taking place in their organization? It is a moral outrage that one of these religious leaders, who was the founding director of the Office of Legal Services at the archdiocese in the early 1990′s, related to this writer, through his assistant, that none of the reports and allegations of clergy abuse during that period were delivered to him or his office.

    Ever since the release of the first Grand Jury Report in 2005 which William Sasso called “anti-Catholic”, this prominent Philadelphia attorney has received one civic award after another from local, state, and federal organizations. Yet, what has/did Mr. Sasso do to protect the children of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? Interestingly, Mr. Sasso has yet to be heard from in response to the 2nd Grand Jury Report and it is unfortunate because the children of the archdiocese are very anxious to hear what he has to say. As general counsel to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the silence of Sasso is indeed “deafening.”

  • Unfettered

    It’s time for humanity to grow up and and stop buying into the fantasy of gods, religion, and other supernatural quackery. Popes, priests, rabbis, imams, all pitch myths regarding punishments and rewards in order to control the behavior of those who believe in them, and primarily for the benefit of themselves and their institutions. Take a really close, honest look at your so-called beliefs and see if they aren’t really wishful thinking. I have lived all my life without such beliefs and I am happy, prosperous, generous, and moral without the hope of reward or the fear of punishment. That is true freedom.

    • gerald nichols

      Dear Unfettered,
      Your post really as nothing to do with the news article it is attached to, for my money. I believe the bible and the goings on of religionists I can set aside at will when I enjoy my Saviour in my bible. You are walking the wrong path and now you invite others to join you. That is wrong!

  • Episcopalian

    Not with my money you don’t and not in my presence, either. I’m gone as of 6 years ago.

  • Tim L.

    Although this is horrible, to malign the entire church which, by the way, is the largest charitable institution (in terms of charitable aid it gives) in the world. Jesus said the Church would be filled with saints and sinners. There have been countless priest saints. Also, FYI: Secular social scientist Phillip Jenkins, of Penn State University, has shown that, statistically speaking, married men have a higher rate of pedophelia than priests. So, stop using this as an over-arching swipe at the Church. It has good and bad in it…as it has for 2,000 years…yet it is still Jesus’ Church on earth.

    • gerald nichols

      Tim L,
      You said: “Jesus said the church would be filled with saints and sinners.” That is absolutely not in the bible. Where or when did you see or hear of such a statement? Do you know what “church” is biblically?

  • Patrick O

    Just horrible.

    Imagine what this kid’s life was like. He was religious, like he was told to be. He was raped by a priest, and when you are young in the Catholic church, they tell you that a priest is as close to God as it gets, so that act is as confusing as any act could be.

    As if child rape isn’t bad enough, the entire army of priests, bishops and the Catholic congregation call him a liar, making a horrible life worse.

    Read the first 6 pages of the Grand Jury report at to see this example and a bunch of others like it.

    This was one of God’s children, raped by one of his priests, then shunned and scorned by their leaders and their community. The way Catholics are supposed to act is to bring in and assist the afflicted and protect the children, but that’s not what today’s Catholic church does. They are reprehensible in their actions.

    God is crying. What a horrible, horrible life he had – courtesy of the Catholic church.

    Parents – keep your children away from Catholic priests. People claim that it has been fixed, but they are lying, just like the church leaders are lying.

  • CorpDrone

    the Vatican has systematically covered up these allegations for years all over the world. Its time for the truth to be told so the healing can begin. They made a huge mistake, its time to own up to it and take the proper steps to see it never happens again.

  • Tenpa

    The Vatican must step as soon as a complaint of this sort has been filed. This would prevent any coverup by the local diocese. The Vatican has the necessary powers to overide the diocese and conduct a proper investigation. The Vatican in these days would no dare to hide ny fact that MAY come out.

  • Patricia Alesi

    So terribly sad. No one wins in this situation.

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