ALAN PERER: Grand jury report on sex abuse by Priests will trigger new lawsuits
Updated: 8:09 PM EDT Aug 15, 2018
NEWS Story –WTAE TV Pittsburgh
The Pennsylvania grand jury report on child sex abuse by clergy is about to trigger a new lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 has learned. It could be filed in the next two weeks.
Attorney Alan Perer has represented dozens of alleged victims in lawsuits against the Pittsburgh diocese and other dioceses over the years. Perer said he will argue that revelations in the grand jury report show the civil statute of limitations shouldn’t apply for victims suing the diocese.
“We anticipate filing very soon. I’m already talking to some of the victims,” Perer said. “And our theory is, under the law, if a person couldn’t discover or couldn’t find out information to implicate the diocese — not the priest, the diocese — that there is a way to expand the statute of limitations until the person could have discovered the involvement of the diocese. And we say it’s not until now. Now is when the grand jury, for the first time, has opened up these secret archives
Perer said he’s already making that argument on behalf of alleged victims suing the diocese in the Johnstown-Altoona area. That case is on appeal with oral arguments expected before Superior Court. Perer thinks this fight over extending the civil statute of limitation in these cases could end up before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
“I think the grand jury report is tremendous for the victims. I think it is in some ways only the tip of the iceberg. I think there’s a lot more to come out. I would like to see the redacted portions,” Perer told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reporter Bob Mayo. “Maybe this will be an opening to correct or to expand the statute of limitations, so that not only do we have the report but maybe we get some help and some compensation for people whose lives have been ruined over the years.”
Perer represented victims in lawsuit which ended in a $1.25 million settlement for more than 30 victims with the Diocese of Pittsburgh in 2007. In that case, the statute of limitations had passed but the diocese agreed to the financial settlement. It was reached the end of Donald Wuerl’s service as bishop and Pittsburgh, just before David Zubik succeeded him.
“People, seeing this report, are becoming emboldened and angry and coming forward. We’ve already had several I’ve met with. I’m meeting with some tomorrow,” Perer said. “We’re trying judicially, in court, to expand the statute of limitations. And this is a perfect reason why: because this was hidden. They couldn’t discover this. People didn’t know about the cover-up,” Perer said.
Perer described his personal reaction as he began to read the grand jury report.
“It made me sick because I have seen so much of this, pattern after pattern. And we believed and we alleged the whole time: They knew about this. They knew about a number of these priests. They didn’t protect the victims. They didn’t come forward. They hid this information and we didn’t get to go to court with those because of the statute of limitations. And now I see these victims couldn’t have discovered it. This was all hidden from them,” Perer said.
In a news conference Tuesday, Zubik denied that there was ever a cover-up.
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