The Diocese of Scranton in Pennsylvania has agreed to pay $3 million to a man who brought a federal civil suit against the diocese saying that they didn’t do anything about a priest who abused him as a teen. The man, identified only as John Doe in court filings, said in his lawsuit that former priest Albert M. Liberatore, who is now 42, abused him from 1999 to 2002 when he was pastor at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in Duryea, according to a news report in The Times-Tribune.
The complaint also alleged that the diocese, bishop and other higher-ups did nothing to prevent further abuse from happening and didn’t even heed warnings that this was going on in one of their parishes. Liberatore was defrocked only in 2005 when he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing this victim. He was sentenced to 10 years probation, the article said.
While the priest got to remain free, the victim was reportedly living a nightmare. The abuse led to substance abuse and addiction making it impossible for him to get anywhere with his education. The plaintiff’s attorney told the newspaper that this case was all about the Catholic Church taking “legal and moral” responsibility for not doing enough to protect its children and parishioners – the people who look up to them for moral and spiritual guidance.
The diocese also reportedly issued a statement that no part of the damages will come from parish funds. The statement also issued an apology to the victim and his family for the harm caused by Liberatore. This settlement came after years of the diocese failing to acknowledge their mistake. A settlement still does not mean that the diocese is admitting its fault in this case.
Diocesan officials still continue to insist that they “followed procedure” and “did the right thing.” So why did they settle and decide to pay up? The plaintiff’s attorney hit the nail on the head. It was fear, he says, that prompted the diocese to finally pay $3 million and offer an apology. Fear, that a jury in Pennsylvania might finally hold them accountable for their actions – or in this case, their lack of action.
If you believe that you or someone you know may be a victim of clergy abuse, please contact Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free, completely confidential consultation. For more information on clergy abuse or support groups, please visit the following Web sites:
Clergy Support Network
Crusade Against Clergy Abuse
SNAP or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
Joshua Children’s Foundation