(Pittsburgh, PA) – The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has refused to release names of priests who were assigned to visit Woodville State Hospital and the New Castle Youth Development Center (NCYDC) during the early 1970s to protect the identities of two priests who sexually assaulted a young teen receiving treatment at those facilities, according to a lawsuit filed today.
“This flies in the face of numerous public declarations that the diocese, and indeed, the Roman Catholic Church, is committed to transparency where the issue of predatory priests is concerned,” said Richard M. Serbin, attorney for the plaintiff and head of the Sexual Abuse Division of Janet, Janet & Suggs law firm.
“By refusing my repeated requests for the names of priests assigned to visit Woodville hospital and the New Castle youth facility during the time periods the assaults occurred, the diocese continues its centuries-old behavior of protecting child sexual abusers at the expense of victims,” he said.
Three Diocese Priests Accused of Child Sexual Abuse
Giovanni Perfetto, 62, who lives in New Hampshire, filed suit in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, alleging he was abused as a child and young teen by three diocesan priests, two of them known only to him as “father.” The case is Perfetto v Diocese of Pittsburgh, et al.
He said the abuse began at the age of “seven or eight” while he was a student at St. Coleman’s Catholic School, Turtle Creek, PA, and continued through the age of 15, while living at NCYDC, New Castle, PA.
According to the lawsuit, the first priest to assault him was Father Edward C. Maliszewski, assistant pastor of St. Coleman’s Church from 1955 to 1964, who served as disciplinarian for the elementary school. After acting out in class, Perfetto was referred to Maliszewski, who took him to the rectory, forced him to drink wine, undressed him and assaulted him, all the while whispering in the child’s ear, “this is what God wanted for both of us,” the suit said.
“The abuse continued at the boy’s home when they were alone, until he was removed from school in the sixth grade because of ongoing behavioral problems,” the suit said. Maliszewski died in 2006.
Perfetto thereafter suffered mental health issues, leading to a stay in Woodville State Hospital from 1970 to 1971. While there, Perfetto, then 14, was sexually abused by an unknown visiting priest, known only to him as “father,” after which Perfetto “took an excessive amount of drugs and suffered an overdose,” according to the suit. The priest is identified as John Doe One in the suit.
While at NCYDC, between 1971 and 1973, at the age of 15, the suit said Perfetto was assaulted in the center’s chapel by a visiting priest, also known to the plaintiff only as “father.” This priest, referred to in the lawsuit as John Doe Two, told him “this is what God wanted.”
Perfetto has continued to suffer from the betrayals and sexual abuse, according to the suit.
Defendants are the Pittsburgh Diocese, current Bishop David Allen Zubik, the two unidentified priests, and former Cardinal Donald Wuerl, of Washington, D.C., who served as bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese from 1988 to 2006.
The lawsuit is based on counts of fraud, constructive fraud, and conspiracy, a legal strategy which Serbin has used successfully to sue other Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania after statutes of limitations for filing sexual assault claims have expired.
About Richard M. Serbin
Serbin’s recent representation of the victim in Rice v. Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is considered a landmark and pivotal higher court decision in allowing certain child sexual abuse survivors to proceed with their claims, despite Pennsylvania’s restrictive statute of limitations. Serbin also is the only attorney ever to win a jury trial in Pennsylvania in a child sex abuse claim against a diocese, bishop, and priest. He has represented over 400 abuse survivors across the U.S. against Catholic dioceses and other religious institutions.
About Janet, Janet & Suggs, LLC
The Sexual Abuse Division of Janet, Janet & Suggs has represented thousands of men and women across the nation who were abused as children by authority figures such as clergy members, priests, doctors, and coaches.