National Catholic Reporter
November 11, 1994
LAWSUIT ALLEGES CHURCH COVERED UP SEX ABUSE
A class-action lawsuit was filed Oct. 31 on behalf of 38 plaintiffs who claim that many priests engaged in sexual abuse and that the New Jersey and Rhode Island dioceses covered up the crimes.
The lawsuit names the National Catholic Conference of Bishops, the U.S. Catholic Conference, the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the Camden and Providence dioceses and their bishops, a nun and several laypersons as parties to a vast cover-up dating hack to the founding of the Camden diocese in 1937.
The suit also names 27 priests Ñ six of whom are deceased Ñ as being involved in molestations that took place between 1961 and 1994. During this time, some of the priests served in local parishes; others held top diocesan posts.
The suit was filed by New Jersey attorney Stephen Rubino, who at this time last year represented Steven Cook in his lawsuit accusing Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of sexual abuse. Cook later withdrew his claim.
Camden Bishop James McHugh told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the charges were intended to create the impression that
"our priests are immoral and dangerous. The impression is necessary so that a twisted legal theory can be asserted and the diocese will be forced to pay the claimants millions of dollars."
The U.S. bishops' Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse will present its first report at the the bishops meeting in Washington, Nov. 14-17.