KBA Sued the Catholic Diocese of Erie Pennsylvania for Sex Abuse Survivors
KBA has a sexual assault practice group. Our attorneys fight for Catholic Church sex abuse survivors. Catholic clergy members engaged in horrible sexual abuse involving children including, rape. The Church covered-up the abuse. The Pennsylvania Attorney General grand jury report released Aug. 14, 2018, details some of the history.
KBA attorney Christina Graziano is litigating one such case in Erie County Court in Pennsylvania. The case alleges the Church covered-up child sex abuse allegations against the Rev. Michael G. Barletta. As at GoErie.com reported, Barletta was one of 301 “predator priests” in the statewide grand jury report issued two years ago. In this case, KBA’s client alleges Barletta molested her in the mid-1970s.
KBA’s client was a student at St. Luke’s in Erie. She also witnessed him molest boys at St. Luke’s. Recent news coverage quoted Attorney Graziano regarding this case.
The Catholic Diocese of Erie Faces Several Lawsuits
Journalist Ed Palattella of Erie Times published another informative piece regarding this litigation. He notes that “the 13-county Catholic Diocese of Erie is facing a total of 31 fraud-related suits statewide, including the suit in federal court. Twenty of the suits were filed in Erie County Court, one each in Venango and McKean counties and eight in Philadelphia….” This is according to the Diocese Notably, “[t]he diocese’s insurance is not covering the costs of the cases.”
Erie Diocese Requests as Stay
The Diocese filed a motion last week to stay – pause – the litigation. As Mr. Palattella reported, the Diocese asked “U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter to grant a stay in the abuse case filed against the diocese in U.S. District Court in Erie.” As he explained further, the basis for making the survivors wait for justice is that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court will hear arguments in a clergy sex abuse on October 20 that supposedly impact lawsuits against Catholic dioceses across the state, including the Catholic Diocese of Erie.
A Stay is Not Necessary
See, the law is already clear. The law requires survivors to file lawsuits within a certain number of years after an injury. Each state has laws called, statutes of limitations, that dictate how much time one has from the date of injury until they must file a lawsuit. The Catholic Church’s priests committed their sins decades ago against children. Those children never brought lawsuits for obvious reasons, and also because the Church engaged in a well-documented cover-up.
Courts across the country recognize fraudulent concealment as an exception to statute of limitation laws. Fraudulent concealment basically means the defendant hid facts from and misled the plaintiff, damaging him or her. As GoErie reported before, “claims of fraudulent concealment related to clergy sexual abuse have been allowed in Pennsylvania since June 2019, when the state Superior Court ruled in favor of a woman who sued the Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.” The seminal ruling in Pennsylvania has given survivors a chance to recover against the Church for its role in covering up decades of sexual abuse by predator priests. Here, KBA alleges the Erie County Dioceses knew and should have known of Barletta’s conduct given prior incidents.
The Catholic Diocese of Erie wants a federal judge to stay a similar this lawsuit until the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides whether to uphold or reverse the prior ruling. A decision in the Supreme Court case, which involves the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, will either allow or prohibit hundreds of plaintiffs from pursuing fraud-related suits in court over claims that the dioceses covered up abuse. The financial ramifications of the decision will be enormous for the plaintiffs and the Catholic Diocese of Erie and the other dioceses.
After Decades of Cover-Up, Enough is Enough: Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
As the AP reported previously, the “landmark grand jury report on clergy abuse in six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania detailed how priests often used religious rituals, symbols of the faith and the threat of eternity in hell to groom, molest and rape children. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the ‘weaponization of faith.'” The people abused by these individuals have waited long enough.
As KBA attorney Christina Graziano put it, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” This “is a legal maxim. It means that if legal redress or equitable relief to an injured party is available, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no remedy at all.” It has a long history in the law, for good reason. Unfortunately the guilty often try to delay the inevitable. KBA is ready to litigate this case. Survivors should not wait any longer.