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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. Reality

    Another "vomit-inducing" lawsuit that will hasten the following:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    March 16, 2011 at 11:25 pm |
  2. sarah

    All churches do is get other to hate and use god to make it ok to be horrible to others. Totally wrong.

    March 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  3. Priyath

    Who knows who's telling the truth

    March 16, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Paul

      If you want to know the truth it isnt far off. Some of those who have made comments indicate their disgust with the Church. How do you think the God of the Bible feels about people who misrepresent him? He is disgusted and will judge them accordingly. But because some religions abuse their role as Gods representatives, does that make all religion bad?
      Jesus said by their works you will know true Christians, true Christians are known by the love they have for God and their fellow man. Conversly you will know false Christians by the horrible things they do and condone.
      Jesus said that the Good News of the Kingdom would be preached in all the inhabited world in the time of the end. Next time they call listen to them, they are true Christians.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:07 am |
  4. sarah

    I believe in god the father almighty, he is a great guy. But I don't think he hates his flock as much as churches say he does. He knows we are human and to be human is to experiance sin and negitivity. I believe that we should not hate so much, try to understand the others we must put up with on a daily basis and not judge people because they are different. Who cares if someone is gay or if someone has 3 wifes, it there soul and if they aren't hurting anyone who are we to say what god thinks. I just think people need to step back from main stream churches and find the real god out there, the one we owe this life too, many books talk about him, the bible is only one of them. And one more thing, catholics are insane.

    March 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • willowspring

      You almost sounded tolerant, misguided, but tolerant, until that last sentence. That sentence shows just who you really are.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  5. Peter Wolfe

    I agree that organized religion is the most massive ponzi scheme to ever be created on Earth! Yes, catholic priest need to have their entire parishes raided fo all records for information and also theyneed to be put in prison. We need civil and criminal prosecussions into this illegal eveil organization that has been more than coincidentially involved in Reico acitivity if yu ask me on child abuse. Tired of this realty relestate companies pawning poor people's ignorance for their own health care or realty plush retirements. I was once a precatholic and christian but screw all religions for all I care.

    March 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  6. Terry - Indiana

    As long as Catholics keep dropping their hard earned money in the collection plate, the Catholic Church will continue to use the money to defend pervert priests. This problem goes far deeper than anyone can imagine. I truly believe that Catholic Priests are the anti-christ.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
  7. NY - SNAP Advocate's Wife

    keep shining the light of TRUTH! http://www.snapnetwork.org

    March 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  8. NY - SNAP Advocate's Wife

    Keep it alive until the Whole TRUTH comes out CNN! And it will.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  9. gerald

    Seems CNN feels the need to keep the priest scandal in the limelight. Probably to justify their trashing of Benedict XVI earlier this year.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
  10. NY - SNAP Advocate's Wife

    Definitely Revoke tax exempt status! Seriously! And it isn't bigotry when the truth is told about priests. it is just THE TRUTH! IT hurts!

    March 16, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • ML

      Yes, Exactly!

      March 16, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
  11. ML

    The entire church needs to have their tax exemption revoked.. Seriously.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • IRASupporter

      Why? So more government crooks can spend our money thats meant for charity

      March 16, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
    • ML

      No.. So tax payers don't have to pay to support organization that condone pedophiles.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • ooprulol

      ml: "The entire church needs to have their tax exemption revoked.. Seriously."

      Right, and while we're at it let's revoke the tax exempt status of every charity and non-profit organization. That way we can punish the people and viewpoints simply because we don't like them.

      "So tax payers don't have to pay to support organization that condone pedophiles."

      Which taxes, pray tell, are going to support the church? A tax exemption means they pay no taxes, not that they get tax money from the government.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Magic

      oop,
      "A tax exemption means they pay no taxes,..."

      Don't you see that every cent that the churches don't pay in taxes is paid by us instead?

      My property tax is higher because they pay none.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  12. Fernando1958

    I'm a very peaceful person and hate violence. So, after thinking for years about this priest abuse issue, I arrived to one simple conclusion: DEATH PENALTY FOR REGULAR CHILD MOLESTERS.
    I consider the same penalty for any degree of molestation but I'm sure it won't go through the legal process.
    So, if anybody is abusing kids over and over again....... DEAD.
    If you are a Priest and you were using God and the I love you reasons.... SLOW DEAD.... 3 TIMES DEAD.

    Also, if you catch a 50 years old adult man abusing a kid, he already abuse 50 kids before that.
    Nobody starts abusing kids after their 50th Birthday. They were just good and were never caught.
    It wouldn't surprise that maybe they already killed and buried some of the thousands of kids that disappear every year.

    One the DEAD PENALTY is establish and everybody knows the new rules, I will like to see who is the first guy that thinks he is way smart and will never be caught.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Colin

      Thanks Mr. Sheen, now back to your little white lines.....

      March 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  13. NY - SNAP Advocate's Wife

    to IRA: fight for the rights of children to live a life with whatever faith they choose and not be abused by the supposedly 'Holy' of their faith!

    March 16, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • IRASupporter

      I WANT TRUTH! Not media bias!

      March 16, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      IRA Supporter.. are you saying you want evidence?? what is this next you will be wanting proof..?? we all had faith they had done it Ii thought that would have been good enough.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  14. Brian

    "Organized religion is the biggest scam in the history of mankind."..........

    And we can't do anything about because religion is a sacred cow – you can not offend a sacred cow in this country.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • gerald

      Oh, I don't know, bigotry against Catholicism is pretty much allowed in this country. Just read these boards.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Gerald.. What is it about religion, any of them, that puts them above ridicule. What are your views then on say ho-mo Se-xuals.. Would you not say your church, and to be fair, others, have little regard for them, is that not bigotry? You justify these actions know doubt because of your religious beliefs. Religions have been bigots and bullies for centuries so why are you so upset that people no longer accept their message of love?

      March 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  15. IRASupporter

    It seems "religious freedom" is a lie in this country. My Catholic faith has been under attack in this damned country since the 1600's. Its only a matter of time until WE fight back. Long live the IRA

    March 16, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Colin

      IU thought you guys went away about a decade ago?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • IRASupporter

      As long as Catholics continue to be persecuted, we will never go away

      March 16, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • ML

      Maybe that's because your priets' have been screwing young boys since the 1600's.. and beyond.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Fernando1958

      IRASupporter. your Religion has been under attack? you are confuse with some concepts. people fought back after being attack by your Religion. attack is a relative term. Also, I haven't seen a poor Priest in the past 500 years. They collect a little bit from a bunch of people, and they become rich. People in your Religion have lands, money and power. If the Priest could just stop abusing kids for a while maybe your Religion will not be under attack.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • DanX

      Our children are under attack from your religious leaders what do you expect?

      March 17, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  16. Colin

    A quick question for everybody out there. Can anybody think of another inst-itution that we still maintain from the Dark Ages, other than the Catholic Church. I ask because I cannot think of one. We no longer put leaches on infected arms, burn old ladies as witches, or sail in scurvy ridden boats, but for some reason, when it comes to religion, we are happy to entertain comical old fools whose minds are cast back centuries as somehow respectable.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • jimmynog

      Well there's Islam..

      March 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • gerald

      So I take it you don't believe in hell. Sad that some day you will.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • Jeff Bertram

      No heven no hell, no salvation no damnation. Only our natural world.
      " there being no evidence of god man felt compelled to create one" – Voltaire
      Only idiots and fools beleive in god and church bears only liars and thieves.
      Tax the church and 90 percent will disappear overnight..............EVOLVE!!!

      March 16, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • ooprulol

      jeff: "No heven no hell, no salvation no damnation. Only our natural world.
      " there being no evidence of god man felt compelled to create one" – Voltaire"

      Alas, not only do you make a fallacious argument from authority, you shoot yourself in the foot as well. Voltaire believed in a god like many enlightenment figures. What he didn't believe in what an established church.

      Good job.

      "Only idiots and fools beleive in god and church bears only liars and thieves.
      Tax the church and 90 percent will disappear overnight..............EVOLVE!!!"

      Yes, yes. Idiots like Leibniz, Newton, Mill, Locke, Rousseau, etc. ad infinitum.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Fernando1958

      great points. Now we know that you can describe the problem. When are you going to suggest the solution? Religion is going no where (I'm agnostic but many people believe in God). Can you make a point?

      Charlie Sheen for you..... Colin

      March 16, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  17. Plato101

    This is small potatoes compared to the abuse that is going on in the public school system. On March 12, the New York Daily News ran a story on teachers in New York City. Hundreds of teachers have been removed from the classroom for misconduct but it is almost impossible to fire them because they are protected by the teachers' unions. Currently there
    are 83 who have a criminal case pending against them. moving abusive teachers around from school district to school district is so common in the profession that it is called "passing the trash".

    March 16, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • NPhxAz

      So small potatoes or large- they ALL can be fried. Of course these child molesters are on the run... who you saying is less a piece of dung? These or yours?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • peacegirl

      "small potatoes". tell that to those children who were abused. The crime is not only that children were grossly assaulted, but that the church KNEW, and protected those assailants.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • willowspring

      Many of those teachers of whom you speak are not fired , but are kept on and PAID to do nothing, costing the State of NY taxpayers millions of dollars that could be better spent elsewhere or actually SAVED!! What a concept!

      March 17, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  18. Steve T

    Just another reason to finally ban religion and join the 21st century.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • gerald

      Ya and murder Christians and throw them in jail if they won't give up their beliefs. It's easy to see how lenin and stalin and pol pot and Mao killed so many Christians with people like you posting. Your not for freedom.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      Gerald.. That is just your natural persecution complex acting up. We advocate so such thing and you know it...I guess the guys you spoke about must have learned something from religion after all.. reading about the crusades and the inquisition may have given them some ideas. You forget that religion enables violence ,, how many times have I heard that gods law is above that of mans.. what does that put in the minds of the weaker among you?

      March 16, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • ooprulol

      evolved: "You forget that religion enables violence ,, how many times have I heard that gods law is above that of mans.. what does that put in the minds of the weaker among you?"

      Ah yes, religion enables violence. Men are not violence on their own or of their own accord.

      Brilliant hypothesis, Watson.

      "how many times have i heard"

      How many people have been killed in the name of imperial domination, money, lust and political power? The vast majority of wars throughout history had nothing to do with religion, and made no religious overtures or justifications.

      Try again.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • irene

      The people persecuting others for religious beliefs all believe in religion – their religion, and only their religion. You don't see wars started by non-believers forcing others to "not" believe. Gerald is living proof that these religious cooks have a real disconnect with reality.

      March 16, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Evolved DNA

      ooprulol.. of course men can be violent. never said they could not be.. . but religious fervor and belief that there is a god on your side exacerbates the situation.. notice the news lately. Your comments " How many people have been killed in the name of imperial domination, money, lust and political power? "The vast majority of wars throughout history had nothing to do with religion, and made no religious overtures or justifications " actually support my view that they were not driven by a dis- belief in any deity, as Gerald tries to assert. However..listening to the leaders making speeches during the second world war all mentioned they have god on their side.

      March 17, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  19. KennyL

    I feel sorry for you Billy, and your children as well. As far as the Catholic Faith goes there have always been those in the Church who have done wrong, and more serious wrong than you are reading about here- namely the first Pope denying he even knew Jesus and all of the rest of the apostles abandoning God to that shameful horrifying death- when they could have stood by Him, defending Him against the authorities and even proving to them that He indeed was God- their Messiah before them! They abandoned God- a more heinous crime than anything- and they have been in the Church since day one and will continue that way until Judgement day.

    March 16, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • jimmynog

      You are part of the problem, little Kenny. Abandon your ridiculous beliefs, and your eyes may finally be opened to reality.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • IRASupporter

      Scr*w you, Jimmynog. You are not an AMERICAN. A TRUE AMERICAN is tolerant of other beliefs. Abandon your delusions, moron

      March 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  20. Name*billy

    Tired of these pedophiles hiding behind some god. Most of the guys joining the seminary have issues anyway since they join because they cant get dates. It is the 21st century why did it take so long to go after these sickos? I grew up in a catholic school but will never let my own kids come close to a church. Organized religion is the biggest scam in the history of mankind.

    March 16, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • The Prophet Mohammed

      The Pope- The greatest Pimp of all...

      March 16, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • gerald

      There are no more child molesters in Catholicism than gernal society. In fact there are fewer. The percentages are small of those who commit these crimes in the priesthood. Your kid has a better chance being molested by a school teacher or for that matter his own uncle, brother, or even father.

      March 16, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Mike

      gerald – You are kind of missing the point. There should be no child molesters in charge of children, in a position that is defined as the safest place a child could be. Quoting percentages just doesn't cut it, it's like having a corrupt judge, some professions should have zero tolerance. Covering up the crimes of a corrupt judge and moving him to a new court would go down too well would it?

      March 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • gerald

      Mike I agree that children should be safe. My point however is the emphasis is all on the Catholic Church. People are building prejudices when the problem is MUCH larger than the Catholic Church. I am glad this has been exposed in the CC but some of the focus needs to be elsewhere and it is not.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Magic

      gerald,
      "I am glad this has been exposed in the CC but some of the focus needs to be elsewhere and it is not."

      One dragon at a time, gerald.

      I'm sorry that you feel persecuted, but the bigger (more arrogant) they come, the harder they fall.

      March 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
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About this blog

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.