Representing Clergy Abuse Lawsuits in Pennsylvania

If you or someone you love were sexually abused by a Catholic priest or clergy member in a Pennsylvania Catholic Church, you may be entitled to compensation.

Thanks to several high-profile investigations into rampant abuse within all eight of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses, as well as pending legislation that will create new opportunities for victims to file claims over abuse that occurred years or decades in the past, a growing number of survivors are stepping forward to seek the justice they deserve.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Pennsylvania Clergy Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (445) 447-3207 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.

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Do I Have Grounds for a Catholic Church Lawsuit?

Our Pennsylvania clergy sex abuse attorneys at Levy Konigsberg have extensive experience litigating civil sexual abuse lawsuits and are available to help you evaluate your eligibility.

While every case is different, you may grounds for a clergy abuse lawsuit if:

  • You were sexually abused as a child or an adult by a priest, Church volunteer, or other member of the Catholic Church.
  • The abuse involved a clergy member from any of Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic Dioceses (Diocese of Pittsburgh, Diocese of Allentown, Diocese of Scranton, Diocese of Harrisburg, Diocese of Erie, Diocese of Greensburg, Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, or the Archdiocese of Philadelphia).

It is important to note that there is no requirement for your abuser to have been criminally convicted to file a claim. In fact, you can still pursue legal action in civil court even if an abusive Catholic priest or other abuser was found innocent in a criminal case or never criminally charged.

We specialize in sexual abuse lawsuits against powerful institutions, including prisons, clergy, and juvenile detention centers.

We work on contingency, which means there’s no cost to hire and no fee unless we win.

Can I File a Lawsuit if My Abuser is Deceased?

Yes. Civil sexual abuse lawsuits against the Catholic Church focus on holding church leadership accountable for failing to prevent, stop, and appropriately respond to sexual abuse committed by its priests and clergy.

For this reason, your abuser does not need to be alive to file a claim – an important point considering that many of the accused priests identified by Pennsylvania authorities are deceased.

Do I Still Have Time to File a Clergy Abuse Lawsuit?

Civil sexual abuse lawsuits are subject to a legal deadline known as the statute of limitations.

In Pennsylvania, the current statute of limitations for civil sex abuse claims is the age of adulthood plus 37 years, which means that survivors sexually abused as minors typically have until the age of 55 to file legal action, as long as they were born after November 26, 1989.

As in other states across the country, Pennsylvania’s current statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims has been criticized for barring numerous survivors from seeking justice and compensation for their damages and for failing to recognize accepted research about the considerable difficulties survivors face when processing their abuse and taking steps to come forward. Thanks to new efforts by advocates and lawmakers, however, there are now several pending measures before the Pennsylvania Legislature that seek to expand the rights of child sex abuse survivors.
These groundbreaking measures, which are expected to pass, will create new opportunities for survivors to step forward and obtain long-overdue justice. If passed, these measures would create a temporary two-year window for child sexual abuse survivors to file claims over abuse that occurred at any time in the past.

Levy Konigsberg is closely tracking the proposed sexual abuse measures in Pennsylvania and is actively working with survivors looking for information about filing claims under the new extended statute of limitations or two-year lookback window, should these measures become law.

Learn more about the pending Pennsylvania child sex abuse measures or contact our firm to discuss your legal options under the current statute of limitations or amended laws.

Over 1,000 Children Abused by Catholic Priests in PA

High-profile investigations conducted in recent years have confirmed that hundreds of priests in all eight of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses have been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 child victims, and that church officials repeatedly brushed aside complaints to protect priests and the church’s reputation rather than victims. Here are some details:

  • In January 2020, ProPublica released a comprehensive list of priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse in various states across the country, including Pennsylvania. The ProPublica investigation revealed that church leaders overwhelmingly underreported the number of credibly accused priests over the past 40 decades and included a searchable database that allows survivors to look up clergy members by name, diocese, or parish.
  • In August 2018, a sweeping grand jury report found that more than 300 “predator priests” in six of Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses have been accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims. The report includes credible claims dating back to 1947 and includes priests from the Dioceses of Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. Pennsylvania’s two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown were the subject of earlier grand jury reports that made similar findings. The report noted that in nearly every instance of abuse, the church worked to systematically conceal complaints and cover up abuse.

List of Priests Accused of Abuse in Pennsylvania

ProPublica’s database of credibly accused priests includes hundreds of clergy members from all eight of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses. The breakdown of known abusers in each diocese is as follows:

Highly publicized lists like ProPublica’s provide shocking revelations about the scope of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. Moreover, they show how church leadership failed for decades to properly protect children and victims, and how the church prioritized its own reputation rather than reporting known abusers and keeping victims safe. As was the case in Pennsylvania, many of these names were kept from the public until the church was compelled to release them.

Pennsylvania Catholic Church Abuse Settlements

Pennsylvania Catholic dioceses have been named in numerous lawsuits filed by survivors since the release of the grand jury report and ProPublica list, as well as high-profile bankruptcy filings.

These cases, many of which were brought by survivors seeking to hold the church accountable for systemic failures in stopping and preventing abuse, revealed further evidence about the scope of child sexual abuse within the church and the dioceses’ inexcusable failures to investigate claims, report abusers, and uphold their duties to protect children. Several lawsuits also resulted in large settlements.

Some of the high-profile litigation and payouts against Pennsylvania dioceses include:

  • On August 10, 2023, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has agreed to a $3.5 million settlement in a case involving allegations of sexual assault by one of its priests against a 14-year-old boy nearly two decades ago. The settlement holds the archdiocese accountable for failing to protect the plaintiff and other children. The incident occurred in 2006 when the plaintiff was 14 years old, serving as an altar boy, and attending religious school in a Philadelphia suburb. The plaintiff was allegedly assaulted by pastor John Close. The archdiocese acknowledged the settlement and stated that it had no prior knowledge of the allegation before Close’s death and reported it to law enforcement in 2019 upon being informed by the plaintiff’s attorneys. The victim’s lawyers argued the archdiocese has a pattern of trying to cover up predatory behavior citing a Philadelphia grand jury report that found “credible allegations” against 300 “predator priests” and identified over 1,000 child victims in the church’s records.
  • In November 2022, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, as part of a reorganization plan under the diocese’s bankruptcy case, agreed to create an $18.25 million settlement fund to resolve abuse 59 sexual abuse claims. The Harrisburg diocese had previously paid $12.8 million to compensate 111 survivors in 2019.
  • In May 2020, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced that it had paid out $44 million to settle approximately 200 of the 600+ certified sexual abuse claims it had been facing, and that it expected to pay out an additional $130 million by the time the fund closed.
  • In December 2020, the Pittsburgh Diocese paid $19.2 million to settle 224 claims filed by survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
  • In March 2019, the Erie Diocese announced that it reached a $2 million settlement with a survivor who had been sexually abused by former Priest David L. Poulson, who previously pleaded guilty to multiple sex crime charged and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
  • In October 2019, the Greensburg Diocese reported that it had paid $4.35 million to settle claims with 57 clergy sexual abuse survivors.

Trust Levy Konigsberg's Legal Team for Proven Results in Sexual Abuse and Negligence Cases

Levy Konigsberg LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has built a legacy over three decades, recovering over $3 billion in sexual abuse compensation for clients. Led by award-winning sexual abuse lawyers, we specialize in representing survivors in sexual abuse across the country, taking on powerful institutions. Our top-rated trial practice handles all types of sexual abuse or negligence cases, showcasing numerous testimonials and successful case results. You can learn more about our latest sexual abuse work on our blog.

FREE Consultations for Victims of Pennsylvania Clergy Sexual Abuse

Contact us today at (445) 447-3207 or email to discuss your case with our experienced legal team.


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