Pennsylvania Catholic Church sued for names of priests in abuse report

(Reuters) – People claiming they were sexually abused by priests filed a class action lawsuit on Monday against eight dioceses in Pennsylvania seeking to compel them to divulge the names of priests accused of such actions over the past 70 years.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general released a grand jury report in August that found that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on the lawsuit. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference did not respond to a request for comment.

Ryan O’Connor said during a televised news conference in Pittsburgh that he was a victim of child sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. He is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.

He said the lawsuit sought a court order to require that dioceses comply with Pennsylvania law and make public the names of priests accused of sexual abuse and whether they are still around children. The lawsuit seeks internal church documents, but is not making any monetary demands.

“We’re done being lied to. Now our truth will be heard and our children protected,” said O’Connor, who has two children in Catholic school, at a press briefing in the law offices of Carlson Lynch Sweet Kilpela & Carpenter, who filed the lawsuit.

Following the report’s release, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said it showed the Catholic Church’s “culture of silence” around sexual abuse of minors and demanded change, specifically among bishops.

Early in September, New York’s attorney general issued civil subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sex abuse investigation.

(Reporting by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill Tarrant)