Will the Archdiocese be civilly liable for priest sex abuse?


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A: In all likelihood, the Archdiocese will be held liable for abuse by certain priests who were known to engage in such horrific acts or those who were reasonably suspected of it.

The Philadelphia Archdiocese’s Civil Liability for Priest Abuse Will be Based on Who Knew What and When

Each case will depend on the statute of limitations and when the abuse occurred. However assuming there are no limitations issues,  the key in the civil cases is evidence that the Archdiocese knew that a given priest was a pedophile, yet still allowed the priest to come into contact with children. In other words, the entire case will hinge on what members of the Archdiocese knew, when they learned of it, and what it did in response.

The criminal trial involving Monsignor Lynn, Avery and Brennan has revealed that Lynn investigated over 30 priests for suspected sexual abuse. Avery and Brennan, despite having been accused of molesting children, were reassigned to unsuspecting parishes throughout the Philadelphia area.

Whether Lynn or Cardinal Bevilacqua was the mastermind will not make a difference. Both were agents, servants and/or employees of the Archdiocese, and as such, their actions and inactions will probably lead to civil liability for failure to protect innocent boys from the pedophiles within the Archdiocese.

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Published: June 20, 2012