Below are updates on Pennsylvania clergy abuse and other sex abuse lawsuits. The most recent news and updates you can find on our main Pennsylvania sex abuse page.
August 18, 2023: Jeffrey Thomas, a former district attorney of western Pennsylvania’s Somerset County, was sentenced yesterday to prison for two years to seven years. Earlier this year, a Somerset County jury convicted Thomas of several charges including strangulation, criminal trespassing, simple assault, unlawful restraint, indecent assault, and false imprisonment. The 37-year-old will also have to register as a sex offender for the next 15 years. The prosecution told the jury that Thomas unexpectedly arrived at a woman’s residence in Windber carrying beer. He refused to depart and proceeded to choke, hit, and sexually assault the woman, only leaving once she promised not to alert the police. The woman’s 8-year-old daughter was sleeping in an upstairs room.
August 15, 2023: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has settled for $3.5 million over allegations that a former religious school student was sexually abused by a now-deceased priest. You do not get sex abuse settlements very often in individual cases. So this gives victims a good look at sex abuse settlement amounts.
Previously, the archdiocese had offered the plaintiff $400,000 through this fund. However, the plaintiff opted for litigation, correctly believing they would get a higher settlement amount. The plaintiff, currently 30 years old, accused the archdiocese of exposing him and other children to danger by ignoring prior allegations against the priest who allegedly abused him. The plaintiff asserted that this priest assaulted him in 2006 and intimidated him into silence. The plaintiff’s pretrial documentation highlighted multiple abuse allegations against the priest going back to the year he was ordained.
The archdiocese did not just roll over on this sex abuse lawsuit. It initially questioned the plaintiff’s credibility and denied negligence. They initially argued that only one abuse allegation against the priest was made before 2006. But that was not true.
August 10, 2023: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has agreed to a $3.5 million settlement in a lawsuit involving allegations of sexual assault against a 14-year-old boy nearly two decades ago. The lawsuit, filed in 2020, claimed that Pastor John Close assaulted the boy at St. Katherine’s of Siena in Wayne in 2006. The victim, now 31, initially disclosed the abuse in 2018, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse. The lawsuit argued that the archdiocese was aware of a pattern of abusive behavior by Close dating back to 1976, including prior allegations. Despite investigations, the accusations against Close were often dismissed. But at least this victim finally received at least some measure of justice.
August 3, 2023: Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Pennsylvania will have to continue waiting for justice as the Pennsylvania General Assembly missed the deadline to get a proposed constitutional amendment, allowing a two-year window for survivors to seek monetary damages against their abusers and the institutions that protected them, onto the November ballot. This delay follows nearly two decades of inaction and disputes between the Democratic and Republican caucuses over bundling the proposal with other amendments, including voter ID requirements. The failure to pass this amendment means that survivors still face the statute of limitations that prevents them from filing suits for abuse that occurred many years ago. There are high hopes for 2024… but we said that this year.
August 2, 2023: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia reported that it paid $78.5 million in clergy sex abuse reparations through a reconciliation program that was launched in 2018 and concluded this year.
July 11, 2023: A former Jehovah’s Witness has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was sexually abused by two fellow Jehovah’s Witnesses when she was a teenager. The abuse, which lasted for over a year, was initially reported to the elders within the organization. However, instead of supporting her, the elders warned her against involving the police, fearing it would bring “reproach” to Jehovah’s name. They also shunned her, causing her to spiral into depression. The lawsuit accuses Witness elders of destroying records of her case and ignoring Pennsylvania’s Child Protective Services Law. The lawsuit comes amid a broader investigation into the organization’s handling of child sex abuse cases by Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office, with several Witnesses already facing charges related to sexual assault of minors.
July 10, 2023: A civil lawsuit with tenacles in New York and Philadelphia is pending after Rev. James Garisto, a Staten Island priest, entered a no-contest plea to corruption of a minor and indecent assault charges in Fishtown, admitting to sexually abusing an underage boy in Fishtown during the mid-2000s. Garisto, who had spent almost four decades as a priest, teacher, and school administrator in the Archdiocese of New York, had multiple priest abuse allegations against him, leading to his suspension in 2019. Last year, a man sued Garisto for the clergy abuse he suffered as a child, prompting another Philadelphia man to come forward, alleging abuse between 1995 and 2002. Criminal charges were initially filed but dropped due to the statute of limitations. Garisto’s no-contest plea will not be admissible in the pending civil lawsuit against him and the Archdiocese of New York, which recently reached a settlement with the victim.
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If you are a sexual abuse victim and want to file a sex abuse lawsuit in Pennsylvania, contact us today at 800-553-8082 or reach out to us online. Our lawyers are hear to help. If you prefer to speak to a male or female lawyer, just let us know when you call or or fill out your contact form.