(Nov. 20, 2019) Attorneys David Matthews and Tim Goss filed a Pittsburg clergy abuse lawsuit this week on behalf of two men who say they were sexually abused in a Catholic church parish in Pennsylvania decades ago.
The lawsuit petition claims that the Rev. Francis Pucci (who died in 2002) abused the boys in the early 1980s. It also accuses the diocese of attempting to cover up the abuse by transferring Rev. Pucci to different parishes. Church officials moved the man 13 times in the span of his 30-year career.
The complaint also names Bishop David A. Zubik and St. Alphonsus Catholic Church as defendants in the case.
The Pittsburg Post-Gazette posted the story Nov. 19; it reported that a church spokesman said she could not comment on pending litigation. She also said the diocese had not yet been served with a petition.
The petition notes that the two plaintiffs in the case still reside in Pennsylvania. Both said they did not know the diocese worked to cover up sex abuse by clergy until they read the grand jury report released in August 2018 following a two-year investigation. That report named Rev. Pucci as one of the clergymen “credibly accused” by more than one alleged victim. He was also specifically identified in the report as one of several priests who shared information about their victims with their clerical predator brethren.
The lawsuit states: “Had plaintiffs known this, they would have understood it was neither a sin nor a personal failing and had the confidence to report it, put it behind them, and heal from it.”
The Rev. Pucci was charged criminally with child sex abuse in 1988, but police dropped the charges based on the statute of limitations that prevailed at that time.
The Gazette explains that the plaintiffs both began attending St. Alphonsus Catholic School in 1981, when they were 11 and 13 years old, respectively.
The petition charges that Rev. Pucci groomed the boys and used his position of trust in the church to abuse them.
“Cold, clammy, dead-like hands”
One boy details in the complaint how Pucci put his hands down his pants. The other said he “distinctly remembers Pucci’s cold, clammy, ‘dead-like’ hands on his body.”
The suit says Rev. Pucci abused the boys at church, in the rectory, in the basement, in the Sunday school building, and on trips outside the church. They said it also occurred in front of other altar boys who knew Pucci was an abuser.
The complaint also charges that the diocese knew of Pucci’s abuse and nonetheless allowed the priest to recruit and groom children and have continued access to them.
The lawsuit charges the diocese with fraudulent concealment; negligence in hiring, training and retention; civil conspiracy; and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
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