The Philadelphia Archdiocese is named as a defendant in another lawsuit. Today’s suit is the fifth filed by a group of lawyers on behalf of survivors of alleged sexual abuse by clergy. Attorneys for the family of Daniel Neill, a former St. Mark Parish altar boy, filed the wrongful death claim against the Philadelphia Archdiocese and Cardinal Justin Rigali. Court documents say in 1980, Neill reported being sexually abused to the St. Mark’s parish school principal who called him a liar and threatened that his family would be disgraced unless he kept quiet. He did report it and the Archdiocese Review Board found his allegation of sexual abuse as being unsubstantiated and not credible.
According to the lawsuit, Neill committed suicide in June 2009–as a direct result of the Archdiocese misrepresenting the true purpose of the review board. Neill’s story was noted in a recent scathing Grand Jury Report. Patrick Wall is a former Roman Catholic priest who is now a canon lawyer in California.
“This case is helpful and instructive for the average person on the street to know about because the survivors not only include the person who was actually sexually abused, but the whole family and the whole family system that got abused,” said Wall.
Wall has worked on priest sex abuse cases across the country. He said the cases in Philadelphia are extremely helpful,”It is the natural result of the Grand Jury report and it’s waking up the criminal authorities across the country and various District Attorneys and a lot of sex crimes investigators because…a vast majority of cases will not have any criminal liability but there will be civil liability that will follow the great job done by the criminal authorities,” he said.Following the report, Cardinal Rigali placed Neill’s alleged abuser on administrative leave. The Archdiocese declined to comment for this story.