Pennsylvania Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal
We Fight For Justice
Since the bombshell report on Catholic Church Sexual Abuse by the Boston Globe in 2002, there have been many reports about child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. None compare to the report issued by the PA Grand Jury, which pulls back the curtain on a systematic, institutionalized culture of sexual abuse involving more than 300 Catholic priests, officials, teachers and clergy over a period of more than 70 years.
The nationally-recognized trial lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have helped thousands of survivors of sexual assault - many of them minors - get the justice they deserve. Our team includes preeminent sexual abuse attorney Richard M. Serbin, one of the first legal advocates for victims of abuse by clergy in the US.
If you or a loved one was a victim, we are here for you and ready to listen.
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A PENNSYLVANIA GRAND JURY HAS SPOKEN
The jury is no longer out. The truth is no longer hidden. The 40th Pennsylvania Statewide Investigating Grand Jury has released a massive report detailing allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct by hundreds of Catholic priests in 6 PA Dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. This report follows two previously-released reports detailing similar allegations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
JJS is proud that our own Richard M. Serbin provided extensive expert and factual testimony to the Grand Jury about the rampant sexual abuse he played a major role in uncovering over the past thirty years. He assisted the PA Attorney General's office in identifying 109 child predators, covering assignments in every diocese in Pennsylvania.
According to the Grand Jury's report, Catholic priests representing more than 100 PA parishes abused thousands of boys and girls over nearly three-quarters of a century, beginning in the late 1940's. The report details depraved acts and horrific accounts from those victimized. The damage done by this sustained, systematic network abuse is still unknown, but it is clear that many victims have suffered severe, permanent physical, psychological and emotional scars.
We've all heard the term "sexual abuse survivor." But some of the victims of these atrocities did not survive - they were so traumatized by the horrors they suffered at the hands of "men of God" that they took their own lives. These victims never had the opportunity to see justice done or those accused brought to justice.
Institutionalized Sexual Abuse
Child predators are often enabled by the institutions that give them access to their victims. The Catholic Church is no different. From the late 1940's through the present day, the Church has systematically hidden or buried reports of sexual abuse, including admissions of abuse, in "secret archives."
Priests and Church leaders used euphemisms like "horseplay" to describe some of the abusive conduct. They conspired to conceal and failed to report instances of abuse to the relevant law enforcement authorities. The Catholic Church's failures to properly investigate allegations of sexual abuse and its decisions to "re-assign" priests accused of sexual misconduct from one parish to another perpetuated a culture of abuse and empowered "predator priests" and members of religious orders to become serial abusers.
It is clear from the Grand Jury's report that many children could've been spared from the horrific abuse they endured if Church officials had simply spoken up.
Shepherds Preyed On Their Flock
The harrowing report released by the 40th Grand Jury brings the total number of Catholic Church officials, teachers, priests and clergy implicated in sexual abuse scandals throughout Pennsylvania dioceses to well over 300. The Church's own records enabled the Grand Jury to identify over one thousand individual victims - although the jurors explicitly state that the number of actual children victimized as a result of this scandal may well be into the thousands, if not tens of thousands.
In their report, jurors urge all victims to break their silence and speak up. They want survivors to know that they will be believed. They want survivors to know that many of their accounts will be verified by internal Church documents that until recently were hidden away, kept under lock and key in "secret archives." Jurors believe that justice demands "predator priests" - along with the institutions and individuals who aided and abetted them - be held accountable for their egregious and reprehensible behaviors.
As a direct result of the Church's obfuscation and concealment of these illicit activities, only a few perpetrators can still be held accountable criminally - although many may still be entitled to seek justice in civil court. If you or a loved one has suffered abuse at the hands of members of the clergy, lay teachers or church employees, the trial attorneys at JJS are here to help and will conduct a free, no-obligation review of your case.
A "Crusader" For Victims of Abuse by Priests and Clergy
The JJS Sexual Abuse Division is led by Richard M. Serbin, a crusader in the fight against sexual abuse by clergy and author of "When Clergy Fail Their Flocks." His work on behalf of victims has been featured in numerous national outlets, including The Daily Beast, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Tribune-Democrat, and the Wall Street Journal.
Fifteen years before reports of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church circulated in newspapers around the world, before the public believed priests could do any wrong, Richard Serbin was fighting to expose the appalling actions of priests and church leaders. For decades, these “men of God” concealed evidence and accounts child molestation, pornography, abuse and rape of innocent boys and girls in “secret archives.” Because of Richard’s work, these archives have been brought to light. Richard secured the only verdict against the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania to date and one of only a handful nationwide.
Dioceses Included in the 40th Grand Jury Report
The 40th Grand Jury Report By The Numbers
After hearing testimony from victims, accused priests and Catholic Church officials, as well as reviewing hundreds of thousands of pages of previously-hidden, internal Church documents, the members of the Grand Jury released an unprecedented, 1356-page report detailing their findings and their recommendations.
Priests Accused of Misconduct
Pages of Documents Reviewed
Victims of Abuse Identified
It Happened Everywhere
"Children were raped in places of worship, in schools, and in diocesan owned vehicles, and were groomed through diocesan programs and retreats. The bishops weren't just aware of what was going on; they were immersed in it. And they went to great lengths to keep it secret. The secrecy helped spread the disease."
Complaints Were Ignored
"It was hard enough for victims to come forward; but when they did, the complaints were often forgotten about, misplaced, shrugged off, or immediately discounted. The church's response not only depressed the number of "confirmed" complaints, but discouraged additional victims from reporting, knowing they might be rebuffed or ridiculed."
Law Enforcement Gave Deference
"There were numerous instances where law enforcement gave deference to the religious institution. Whatever the motives for that deference, it left children without their rightful civic watchdogs."
Predator Priests Paid Off
"Known offenders were still secretly provided financial support. "Retired" child abusers were permitted to live in church-run facilities located near schools. Dioceses resisted calls to release abusers' names, while heralding their compliance with new mandated reporter laws. And most striking to us were cases in which the dioceses obtained child abuse "clearances" for employees who had no criminal record - because the bishop had never reported prior incidents of abuse."
"These priests breached the sacred trust they owed to children who looked up to them as men of God. They - and their superiors - institutionalized a culture of rampant sexual abuse that allowed 'predator priests' to commit unspeakable acts on innocent children in their care."
– Howard A. Janet, Managing Partner of JJS
A "Playbook" For Concealing The Truth
The Grand Jury report lays bare the systematic process or "playbook" used by many PA dioceses to conceal the horrific acts perpetrated and perpetuated by Church officials. It details how priests who raped or abused young boys and girls were shuffled from one parish to another, how Church officials acted to defend their abusive clergy over innocent children and how this malfeasance was deliberately concealed to prevent "scandal" and to deny victims the justice to which they are entitled.
The trial lawyers at Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC have a proven track record of taking on some of the nation's largest and most powerful companies and organizations. Our team of nationally-recognized attorneys has secured hundreds of millions on behalf of clients who were abused as children, including successful litigation against Penn State University for failing to take action to prevent children from being sexually abused by PSU football coach and serial molester Jerry Sandusky and The Johns Hopkins Hospital for failure to prevent thousands of women - many of them minors - from being abused by Dr. Nikita Levy.
JJS is currently pursuing claims against former OBGYN Dr. George Tyndall and the University of Southern California (USC) on behalf of women who have alleged they were sexually exploited during exams performed by Dr. Tyndall at USC’s Student Health Center.
We represent sexual assault victims in complex, high-profile and national cases involving some of the largest and most powerful institutions in the world. Our team of litigators understands how to unravel institutional cover-ups and do everything possible to hold those responsible - both the perpetrators and those who enabled them - accountable for their actions. We're not afraid to take on the tough cases, and we are relentless in our advocacy for our clients and in our pursuit of justice on their behalf.
Allegations in the Report
The Grand Jury report includes hundreds of horrific examples of misconduct by Catholic clergy members. Examples of abuse can take many forms and faces, including:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Violent sexual assault
- Being asked to perform sexual acts
- Child pornography
- Inappropriate touching
- Forced masturbation
- Forced sex (oral, anal, vaginal)
- Inappropriate/lewd sexual comments
If you or a loved one was the victim of abuse by any member of the Catholic Church, the JJS team is here to help you get the justice you deserve.
"Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have mostly been protected...many have been promoted...Shepherds must stop preying upon the flock."
– Report of the PA 40th Investigative Grand Jury
We're on the Front Lines in the Fight Against Sexual Abuse
CBS This Morning: "An Opportunity Missed" - Jerry Sandusky Trial
Piers Morgan: "These Children Bury Events In Their Minds" - Jerry Sandusky Trial
ABC World News Tonight: "An Opportunity Missed" - Jerry Sandusky Trial
Press Conference: Dr. Nikita Levy "Shocking Invasions of Privacy"
Press Conference: Dr. Nikita Levy/Hopkins $190M Settlement
CNN Anderson Cooper 360: "Second Mile...Was His Feeding Ground" - Jerry Sandusky Trial
A Track Record of Advocacy
The JJS team has been recognized for delivering real justice on behalf of sexual abuse survivors, many of whom were abused as children. Our Sexual Abuse Division includes Richard M. Serbin, a pioneer in the fight against sexual abuse by clergy and author of "When Clergy Fail Their Flocks." Mr. Serbin and the JJS team combined have successfully advocated on behalf of thousands of survivors of sexual abuse - hundreds of whom were abused by priests and clergy, and have recovered hundreds of millions of dollars in verdicts and settlements.
We are not afraid to take on the tough cases or go head-to-head with the nation's largest and most powerful organizations - including the Catholic Church. We are relentless in our advocacy for our clients and in our pursuit of justice on their behalf. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest, clergy member or other Church official, you can depend on JJS to deliver the full measure of justice you deserve.
JJS Delivered Justice for Victim #6
JJS played a major role in the sexual abuse case against Penn State Football Coach and serial molester, Jerry Sandusky. Howard A. Janet, managing partner at JJS, represented Victim #6. Unlike many other attorneys representing Sandusky and Penn State victims, JJS filed a lawsuit because our team knew that’s what it would take to get our client full – not partial – justice.
The compensation JJS obtained for Victim #6 changed his life.
We Fight For Survivors Inside and Outside the Courtroom
Justice Delivered for Victims Abused as Children
JJS has a proven track record of uncovering institutionalized sexual abuse and delivering hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for thousands of clients, many of whom were abused as children. We have taken on tough cases where individuals in positions of leadership or authority – including doctors, coaches, supervisors, teachers and others – have taken advantage of the trust placed in them to commit unspeakable acts on innocent victims.
Our Sexual Abuse division includes preeminent sexual abuse attorney Richard M. Serbin, a pioneer and precedent-setting litigator in the fight against sexual abuse of minors by priests and clergy. Mr. Serbin has represented hundreds of victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests across Pennsylvania and notched landmark victories on behalf of survivors, including the widely-cited Hutchison v Luddy decision that allowed victims to bring a claim against the Church in civil court for its role in concealing the actions of pedophile priests, as well as the right to recover punitive (punishment) damages.
The JJS team has the experience and resources necessary to untangle the complex web of lies and deceit used by institutions to conceal this wrongdoing and protect the offenders from scrutiny.
Why Choose JJS?
JJS has uncovered the truth and won over three billion dollars in verdicts and settlements for clients across a wide range of extremely serious and complex cases. Our team of trial attorneys has a proven track record of taking on tough cases involving some of the nation's largest and most prestigious organizations - and winning.
If you have a high-stakes sexual abuse, legal malpractice, medical malpractice or other injury case, we can help hold those responsible accountable and deliver the full measure of justice you deserve. Our attorneys have been awarded dozens of national accolades for competence and ethics - and bring a record of delivering "historic" justice not just in clear-cut cases, but in cases that other preeminent law firms have missed or failed to put together. Our in-house medical experts and years of experience in high-profile cases provide us with an edge.
As a national law firm with a 40 year track record, we have the wherewithal to advance hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of case costs on your behalf in order to put you in the best possible position to recover the compensation you deserve. And you'll never have to pay attorneys' fees or case costs unless we win your case.
We understand that these experiences are traumatic and appreciate how difficult it is to come forward, which is why we treat each survivor with the care and compassion that we'd want. At JJS, we fight to help survivors get the justice they deserve.