The Archdiocese of Philadelphia, former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and current Cardinal Justin Rigali were named in a civil lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to endanger children by, among other things, creating a victims-assistance program designed to protect sexually abusive priests.
The suit, filed yesterday in Common Pleas Court, was brought by a 28-year-old former Catholic school student allegedly sexually abused in the 1990s by St. Aloysis Academy deacon Martin Satchell and Richard Cochrane, a Malvern Prep priest from whom he later sought counseling about the previous assault. It claims the archdiocese “continues to tolerate and actively conceal” sexual abuse of children.
“This is something that has to go to the top,” said Marci Hamilton, an attorney who, while consulting then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham during the 2005 scandal, compiled recommendations for the church. “The archdiocese has never been in the victims’ assistance business. They’re in the ‘protecting rapist-priests’ business.”
Reeling from last week’s arrests of three priests, a teacher and a monsignor responsible for overseeing all priests, an archdiocese spokesman declined to comment on the suit. Hamilton said the lawsuit is a “direct result” of the two grand-jury reports.
John Salveson, of the Foundation To Abolish Child Sex Abuse, said Monsignor William Lynn’s arrest was monumental because it charged a church member “for enabling.”
“It’s the most important development I’ve seen in 30 years,” he said.
Rigali singled out
Rigali was named in the suit because the victim, identified as John Doe 10, sought help under the assistance program Rigali started after the 2005 grand jury report. The Order of St. Augustine in Villanova was also named since they operate Malvern Prep.