By Terri Hill | November 15, 2018
The number of lawsuits filed by one Pittsburgh attorney against the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging sexual abuse by clergy has increased to 21 after 14 additional lawsuits were filed Thursday in Allegheny Common Pleas Court.
A separate class action lawsuit was also recently filed by a different Pittsburgh law firm seeking church documents concerning alleged abuse.
Attorney Alan Perer with the law firm Swensen and Perer filed the initial seven lawsuits shortly after the release of a state grand jury report in August, that alleged over five decades of abuse within six Pennsylvania dioceses that affected more than 1,000 children.
Named as defendants in the new lawsuits are Bishop David Zubik, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, and seven priests who were named in the report. Also included are George Leech, Peter Pilarski and John Unger, all deceased and who were not identified in the report.
In one case, a Gibsonia man alleged in a complaint that he was sexually molested by Pilarski when he was 15 years old. Pilarski took the man to a cabin on a lake and “would insist on bathing with Plaintiff in the river, while both were nude.”
The man also alleged he “Would fall into a deep sleep and wake up groggy, unsure of what happened. This led Plaintiff to believe he was drugged and abused by Pilarski while unconscious.
In another case, a Harmar man alleged in court papers that when he was 10 Unger called him “out of class under the guise of needing to clean the erasers” and led him “through a tunnel that connects the elementary school to the church basement and rectory.” Unger then “sodomized” the man in the “choir locker room.”
“We just think it is wrong for the church to try to hide behind the statute of limitations where they hid the evidence, and they really should try to make it right for these individuals who suffered abuse,” Perer said.
A Butler man alleged in court papers that when he was eight years old Francis Siler, identified in several lawsuits as “the hugging priest,” sexually molested him between 1977 through 1980.
Despite reporting the abuse to the Diocese in 1990 and again in 1995 Siler was allowed to remain at his assignment, according to the complaint.
Last week Diocese officials announced they are establishing a victims’ compensation fund to be underwritten by the diocese or archdiocese.
Terri Hill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org