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Catholic Dioceses Sued Over Disclosure Of Abuse Allegations

Andrew Rush

Parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy are suing Pennsylvania's eight dioceses and their bishops to compel them to release information about allegations.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Pittsburgh comes a month after a statewide grand jury report detailed sexual abuse allegations against more than 300 priests over decades in six dioceses. While more than 1,000 child victims were accounted for across the state in the report, hundreds more have contacted the state’s attorney general since the report’s release.

“We’re done being lied to, and now our truth will be heard and our children will be protected,” said Ryan O’Connor, a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

O’Connor ,of Penn Hills, said he was sexually abused by his priest in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese when he was 9 years old. He said he’s still a practicing Catholic and his children go to Catholic school.

“We believe in the Church as an institution. I have not lost faith in my religion,” he said, but added that the culture of the Church needs to change.

Attorney Benjamin Sweet represents the two lead plaintiffs. He said they are not seeking money.

“This is about transparency,” said Sweet. “This is about openness and honesty moving forward so that all parents can feel safe in the knowledge that their children are not in danger from predators.”

Sweet said without releasing all church documentation related to child abuse,  there could be active priests facing allegations that the public doesn’t know about.

Several spokespeople for the dioceses say they cannot comment until they have seen the lawsuit. Messages left for several dioceses were not immediately returned Monday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.