By Pat Ciarrocchi
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – With the second clergy sex abuse trial in Philadelphia set to begin in early September, lawyers for the abuse victim in that case are preparing civil litigation.
This week the attorneys told the court they intend to amend their lawsuit and also go after two bishops with Philadelphia ties.
“This won’t be the last of it. This is groundbreaking,” said Philadelphia Attorney Slade McLaughlin.
McLaughlin, of McLaughlin & Lauricella, P.C., intends to name Bishop Joseph Cistone, the current Bishop of Saginaw, Michigan and Bishop Edward Cullen, the former Bishop of Allentown, as he proceeds in a civil case, on behalf of a former altar boy who was sexually abused in 1992.
“My best description of them is that they were the kingpins,” said McLaughlin in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News.
Former Secretary of the Clergy, Monsignor William Lynn, who was convicted in June of child endangerment, had reported to both Cullen and Cistone in the Archdiocesan church hierarchy.
“He said, ‘I was a low level player’,” said Mc Laughlin, “and these are the people pulling the strings.”
Monsignor Lynn, who is now serving a three to six year sentence, was convicted of endangering McLaughlin’s client, when he allowed Father Edward Avery, a priest with an admission of child abuse years earlier, to live at St. Jerome’s Parish, putting him in the pathway of the now 29-year-old man, known in the filing as “Billy Doe.”
“During the criminal trial,” said McLaughlin, “Monsignor Lynn was very clear that there was a cover up but that it was done at a pay grade above him and he specifically indicated and implicated Cullen and Cistone as well as Bevilacqua.”
A criminal indictment was not brought against the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, nor Cullen or Cistone. But that doesn’t bar them from being named in a civil lawsuit.
“I don’t think it’s right that those at the top of the ladder can walk away,” said McLaughlin, “While those somewhere in the middle of the ladder are left holding the bag.”
Through spokespeople the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Saginaw declined to comment on pending litigation.
In the meantime, McLaughlin’s client will be the primary accuser in the clergy sex abuse trial of Charles Englehardt, a former order priest with the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, and Bernard Shero, a former teacher in the archdiocese. Jury selection begins September 4th, at the Criminal Justice Center.