3rd suit filed against Philadelphia archdiocese charging sex abuse
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, Francis Finnegan claimed he was sexually abused by a priest in the late 1960s.
March 16th, 2011
05:02 PM ET

3rd suit filed against Philadelphia archdiocese charging sex abuse

By Sarah Hoye, CNN

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Another new sexual abuse lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Cardinal Justin Rigali and other archdiocese staffers on behalf of a Pennsylvania man, clergy abuse attorneys said.

This latest lawsuit is now the third civil suit filed within the last month. A grand jury report, released in February, not only led to charges against four priests and one parochial school teacher but has opened the floodgates for civil litigation.

In its wake, alleged victims of sexual abuse are suing the archdiocese and other high-ranking church officials because the report states the archdiocese knowingly withheld the identity of predator priests.

These lawsuits were filed in response to new information released in the 2011 grand jury report that involves Monsignor William Lynn, who is facing criminal charges for endangering the welfare of children and having knowledge about perpetrators. Lynn served as the secretary for clergy under the former Philadelphia Archbishop Bevilacqua.

In the case of Francis Finnegan filed Wednesday, Finnegan claimed the Rev. John Kline, who was assigned to St. Francis Xavier Parish and was a longtime teacher at Roman Catholic High School in Philadelphia, sexually abused him while on vacation with the family sometime between 1968 and 1969.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia would not comment on the lawsuit.

During a news conference, Finnegan stood outside the archdiocese building surrounded by his wife, three children and sister, while his parents looked on from a distance.

"It has to stop. They haven't changed anything," Finnegan said. "I stand here because I don't want somebody who is 7 today to be me in 40 years.

"I don't want somebody to continue to be covered up and sheltered by the Catholic church," he said.

Finnegan, now 49, said he repressed the memories of the sexual contact with Kline until roughly three years ago. The memory flashes are like looking at random photos creating a mosaic in his head, he said.

Kline was a regular part of the family, Finnegan said. He ate dinner with them every Thursday for decades, and often traveled with them on vacation. His mother was a secretary for the parish for 40 years, where she and her husband still belong. Kline also co-officiated at Finnegan's wedding.

Finnegan and his older brother, Jack, 58, who now lives in California, were estranged until a few years ago. After they reunited, his brother revealed his own secret, Finnegan said.

"Father John Leo Kline assaulted me, and nine years earlier assaulted my brother," he said. "This man was intimately connected with the family."

Finnegan's suit alleges that the archdiocese "actively concealed their knowledge of Kline's previous offenses, lied to parishioners and created a sham sexual abuse victim assistance program for the archdiocese."

Kline, who was not named in either the 2011 grand jury report or a 2005 grand jury report, retired in 1981 and has since passed away, said Finnegan's attorney, Marci Hamilton. Their suit alleges fraud and conspiracy by the archdiocese.

"This is yet another case in which the archdiocese has let down one of Philadelphia's children," Hamilton said. "This is just an example of what we're learning every day about the harm that this archdiocese has inflicted on not just survivors of abuse, but their entire extended family."

Sometime between 2007 and 2008, Finnegan contacted the Archdiocese Victims Assistance coordinator by phone. He was contacted once by the archdiocese and has not heard from them in four years, he said.

"It's not like they have a personal relationship with me, they don't," he said.

Finnegan's other attorney, Dan Monahan - who also filed the suits on behalf of the previous two alleged victims of sexual abuse - said he would file as many lawsuits as he has to.

"With each week we get more and more phone calls and contacts, not only from Philadelphia, but from across the country," Monahan said. "This has hopefully awakened the people either who lived in the archdiocese or currently live in the archdiocese."

This year's grand jury report is the second one on priests' sexual abuse in Philadelphia, and the first time that a Catholic church leader has been charged criminally for an alleged cover-up.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Courts • Pennsylvania • United States

soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. mao2

    My mother is an enlightened woman of Catholic faith and she struggles mightily with her religion in the face of these awful realities. Moreso, she belongs to the church where Monsignior Lynn was re-assigned to, to go under the radar during the 'scandal'. My mother has refused to take communion from him. Her small rebellion. But she's also attended funerals of dear friends he has presided over.Despite his presence, she won't 'not go' because its a time of need for people of her community. People she loves. The terrible deeds of people like the enabling Monseignor Lynn, hurt not only their victims, but all people of Catholic religion.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Colin

      Another way to look at it is that Lynn did her (and perhaps you) an inadvetant favor. He put a crack in their supposed monopoly on divine truth. Maybe its time to question other "fundamental truths" tha this archaic and comical old dinosour portray.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • comment

      Then again,

      March 16, 2011 at 10:33 pm |
  2. Eric of Reseda

    Death to the Catholic Church. Pure evil, right up tot he Popes. Catholics are sheep, all too willing to go to the slaughter. I mean, pedophile priests have been around a LONG, LONG time and been allowed by the Church leadership, including various Popes, to keep on raping little boys. SO WHY ARE CATHOLIC PARENTS SO WILLING TO SACRIFICE THEIR CHILDREN, and hand them over to these perverts?!?

    March 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • comment

      Similar reason why parents don't have problems sending their kids to school and summer camps – personal trust and trust in professionality ?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Papi Mike

      death to the Catholic Church?!? You'll be long dead and turned back into dirt before that will ever happen! In spite of the great sins of some of the people (including priests) in the Catholic Church, the whole bunch is not rotten...so please stop preaching to "Catholic parents"! Worry about your own children and YOU raise them... bigoted and biased will certainly be the outcome I am sure!

      March 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Colin

      And so wil lyou and I "Papi Mike". With the growing education of the World and transperency required of multinational businesses, like the RCC, the RCC is predestined to wither and fade but, I agree, it won't die for a loooong time. Pity that the last vestiges of the Dark Ages will be with us for so long.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
  3. I Am That I Am

    "Asked to comment on the matter, the Archdiocese's spokesman, Pedobear, just winked at the camera and smiled."

    March 16, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
  4. jesse

    And yet the Catholic church still keeps their tax exempt status with the government. That should be yanked till they can prove that all cases are settled and guidelines are put forth to keep preditors out of the church.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
  5. scranton

    The Catholic Church knew that molestation was happening and covered it up and protected pedophile priests and that is totally inexcusable.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • comment

      based on the same^ approach, would you say that Bradley Manning should be set free straight away, even though it wasn't about the same issue?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
  6. comment

    Eg. Jan Hus was burned at the stake for 'less', but burn some evil-doer these days, and, oh noes, it's not humane or whatever. ('evil-doer' and 'criminal' not being the same per se)

    March 16, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • comment

      besides that, even physics talks about no energy being lost / not disappearing – any act, and even every thought, is somewhat similar to a stone thrown onto the surface of a body of water, and nothing gets lost in the big thing of things...

      March 16, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  7. Kimberly

    Art... you are demented, and your words hate filled. There are ppl everywhere that are perverted, from every walk of life. The individuals are to blame, not their affiliations. Simply put, a red head is not neccesarily Irish, and someone who is a Christian not perverts. I purppsefully made the comparison simplistic, so even one sich as yourself might comprehend it. So, stop lumping ppl into categories. Essentially, you are profiling, and jumping to biased conclusions.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  8. Lovin'Life

    The Catholic church is a sham.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • PraiseTheLard

      No more or less than any other "great" religion...

      March 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
  9. JT

    Remember, Jeeeeezus loves the little children of the world. That's why he ignores their cries as they are r@ped by his priests and the deluded flock continue to support their pedophile infested cult. Disgusting. Why don't they just die out already!

    March 16, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • comment

      Why would you want the children of the world to die out?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  10. El Duderino (if you're not into the whole brevity thing)

    Dave Attell: You know what's the saddest part, these kids don't even want to go to church to begin with, it's boring. It's not like when you're molested at camp; now that's fun. "Oh, I got molested, but at least I went canoeing."

    March 16, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  11. LouAZ

    The silence of ALL CATHOLICS for ALL the years was and still is their CONSENT.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Edward

      Yes, I agree. You are correct.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Peter

      Hmmmm. And people talk about how Muslims won't rat on other Muslims. Looks like the Catholics (until recent times) kept quiet about bad apples as well.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • comment

      Oh, you three surely personally condemned every sin and crime happening in your country then? No? So, you gave consent to all of them then?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
    • Papi Mike

      that's a pretty stupid remark! Silence means consent is only applicable if ALL knew and remained silent. Obviously ALL did not know... so ALL did not consent!

      March 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  12. Ibrahim

    It's amazing how quickly repressed memories surface when money is to be had.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Michelle

      You, sir, are disgusting. The Catholic church is a known and admitted haven for pedophiles–and yet you're taking their side against that of a victim. How do you look at your nasty self in the mirror?

      March 16, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Tired of hearing about these cases

      ALL religions have pedophiles, they just haven't been leaked to the news media like the Catholic priests. But Ibrahim is correct. The accusations over the years snowballed after the first guilty verdit resulted in a hefty payout. Repressed memories are NOT 100% accurate or valid in court and cases like these are the reason a statute of limitation should apply. For the record, I was abused by a family member at 13 and it took me all of 3 hours to tell. Why does it take years for these people to come forward. His brother surely didn't state that he suddenly remembered a repressed memory, too. Having a close, open-minded and understanding family (hint, hint), I knew right away that what happened was wrong and I could go to them. If this accuser is no longer alive, the only thing he can sue for is money since people are already aware of the problem.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  13. Jesus

    Put me on that jury and I will (as will many others) slam the Church for the full value of all their assets. Knowing what we know today, no Priest should ever be in a one-on-one relationship or closed door meeting or confessional (not separated by a concrete wall) with ANY parishioner.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Imtiyaz

      I seriously hate mi ochtalic school it's coed but very guy iz an idiot and I HATE going ther I try 2 almost break very rule and on mi last day uv school ( graduation) I wanna freak out mi teachers by dyeing mi hair firetruck red!

      March 31, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  14. Edward

    Something is wrong, when the way the criminal gets off, is death from old age. By the time these priests get turned in, they have little or no life left. Regardless, the cat is out of the bag and the Catholic church better move fast to change things drastically and correct this age old problem. I cringe to think how long this faternity of pedophilia has gone on.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  15. Indigo


    Christians are such Satanic pervs!!! And they have the nerve to condemn and lie about Gays and Lesbians.

    The Christian false religion is simply a lie and power ploy for those who can't get a regular job and their weak minded flock. Like Texans and Republicans.

    Same goes for the Muzzies and Jews!

    ART.....go back and watch some more Looney Tunes. Bedtime is at 9 pm. Wash behind your ears,too, and brush those teefers, boy!

    March 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  16. DeeDee

    I have the greatest sympathy for those who suffered as a result of abuse, but legally and in the media , we should proceed with caution here. There have been allegations based on repressedd memories that have resulted in lawsuits and even criminal convictions that have later been found to not be true. The accusers acted in good faith, but their memories were wrong. The article said that the accused had passed away and cannot confront the accuser(s) , so there has to be more than multiple allegations to back this up.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Lee

      Personally I don't believe in so-called repressed memory. I think it's a bunch of BS. I was assaulted when I was about 8 and I while I certainly wouldn't allow that assaul to run or ruin my life, it is still a memory.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • snaaab

      The accused isn't the late Rev., but the Archdiocese itself. Certainly the Archdiocese and staff can confront the accusers in court... But will they? They may just end up settling to make it go away.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • chief

      that was an absolutely pathetic attempt to divert the message... this isnt here say or mere allegations..... 21 of 35 or so were pointed out by the law... over 10,000 priests have been in court ove this mess and many convicted... the catholic church has paid out over 3 billion dollars in out of court settements..... go to bishop accountability dot org and see this really wierd thing called facts....

      March 17, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • gerald

      Chief, 10,000 in court. Less than half convicted. Around 4000. Now some of the 6000 were guilty for sure. But you seem to want to put all accused away. Some justice system there. It's not an american justice system.

      March 18, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  17. Art

    Christians are such Satanic pervs!!! And they have the nerve to condemn and lie about Gays and Lesbians.

    The Christian false religion is simply a lie and power ploy for those who can't get a regular job and their weak minded flock. Like Texans and Republicans.

    Same goes for the Muzzies and Jews!

    March 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • Amber

      Moron. Go read your Bible.

      March 16, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Floyd

      Seek help Art. You need help.

      March 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • scranton

      So I have this friend who is gay but also has a problem with shoplifting. Using your mentally deficient logic then all gays are crooks and criminals and they should all be in jail. Your an idiot.

      March 16, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • The Bobinator

      > Your an idiot.

      I think you mean you're.

      March 17, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  18. dude

    shocked! shocked, I say!

    March 16, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  19. j4sef

    Why is there a 'belief blog'?

    March 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • jasonbig

      so that some religious wh0res have a place they can set themselves on fire to get attention...

      March 16, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • yabba

      I've asked this too. It is CNN pandering to xtians. Strange that they feature pedophila now. Slow news day on the "belief circuit."

      March 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  20. chief

    ha ha ha.... keep it coming.... all accomplicases too....

    March 16, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.