Sexual abuse lawsuits on hold while Philadelphia priests on trial

The landmark priest sexual abuse trial is set to resume in Philadelphia Tuesday.  While the criminal trial continues, a flurry of lawsuits by alleged abuse victims are on hold.

Marci Hamilton is co-counsel in seven cases brought against the Catholic church by alleged abuse survivors.  “It’s standard operating procedure for civil attorneys to stay out of the way of the prosecutors and to make sure the criminal trials go forward first,” said Hamilton.At the criminal trial, jurors have heard emotional testimony from an alleged victim, as well as testimony from Monsignor William Lynn — who defended himself against allegations that he endangered children by helping re-assign priests accused of sexual abuse.  Hamilton said information that’s come out in the trial could be used in the civil cases, including a list of priests facing abuse accusations.”In one of the most interesting pieces of information that has come out — that was not in the Grand Jury reports — was this list of 35 priests that Monsignor Lynn put together,” said Hamilton.  “Our claims involve a conspiracy claims just as the criminal trial involves, so one of the arguments is that there was a conspiracy to cover up the abuse and this list of 35 priests that Monsignor Lynn put together, is relevant.”In addition to providing information that could be useful in the civil suits, Hamilton said as the trial’s gone on, more survivors have come forward.

“This criminal trial has a possibility of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Monsignor Lynn and the Archdiocese engaged in a cover-up of abuse and so that will be very helpful in the civil trials.”Hamilton said the long legal process isn’t easy for abuse survivors.

Jurors have heard emotional testimony from an alleged victim, as well as testimony from Monsignor William Lynn –  who defended himself against allegations that he endangered children by helping moving priests accused of sexual abuse.

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