Prominent St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who’s represented hundreds of victims of clergy sex abuse, is joining other lawyers in Philadelphia in suing the archdiocese, which came under fire last week after four priests and a Catholic school teacher had sex abuse-related charges thrown at them by the DA.
Anderson said in a released statement Monday the attorneys would bring a lawsuit alleging the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and Cardinal Justin Rigali, as well as others within the archdiocese, “conspired to endanger children when they actively concealed sexually abusive priests, lied to parishioners and created a sham sexual abuse victim assistance program for the Archdiocese.”
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the suit, which will be filed in Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia, involves a man alleging he was molested by two priests in the 1990s.
“The suit will also name Msgr. William Lynn, the archdiocese’s secretary of the clergy from 1992 to 2004, who was arrested last week on abuse-related charges, along with three priests and a parochial school teacher.
“Lynn faces two felony counts of endangering the welfare of children for allegedly failing to protect children from sexual abuse by priests.
The Revs. Charles Engelhardt, 64, and Edward Avery, 68, and Bernard Shero, 47, a former sixth-grade teacher at St. Jerome School in Northeast Philadelphia, were charged with raping and sexually assaulting the same boy in the parish between 1998, when he was 10 years old, and 2000.
“The Rev. James Brennan, 47, was charged with raping and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
“The arrests followed a grand jury report that said at least 37 priests remained active in the archdiocese despite accusations of inappropriate behavior toward children.
Cardinal Rigali, in a letter to 267 parishes last week, countered that “there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”