Pennsylvania clergy abuse victims file class action lawsuit
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Pennsylvania clergy abuse victims file class action lawsuit

After the release of the grand jury report [report, PDF] last month that exposed [JURIST report] widespread abuse within the Catholic Church, hundreds of victims across Pennsylvania have been invited to join a massive class action lawsuit filed [complaint, PDF] in Allegheny County on Monday.

Plaintiffs Ryan O’Connor and Kristen Hancock, on behalf of her minor child, are suing all eight of the dioceses accused in the report, as well as several bishops allegedly involved in the systematic rape and sexual abuse of more than 1,000 Pennsylvania children.

O’Connor allegedly suffered years of abuse at the hands of a priest within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and now raises two children in the Catholic faith. Minor child plaintiff W.H. actively attends kindergarten within the same diocese.

The complaint seeks declaratory and injunctive relief, demanding that those involved meet their mandatory reporting obligations under Pennsylvania law including full disclosure of all present information pertaining to the sexual abuse of minors. Any failure to remedy this by the court will lead to a clear threat to public safety and a continued harboring of abusers.

When discussing the need for this court remedy, the complaint states,

O’Connor, like many other victims/survivors of the sexual abuse caused and facilitated by the Catholic Church, has suffered mental and emotional distress due to the feeling that he is unable to protect the public from undisclosed Catholic priests and other agents who have committed sexual abuse against children.

Since the release of the grand jury report, multiple state-level investigations have been initiated across the country.