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Pittsburgh Man alleging abuse by Two Priests sues Church

PITTSBURGH , Aug. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Matthews & Associates Law Firm filed a lawsuit August 16, 2019 for a Pittsburgh man who charges that he was sexually abused by two different Catholic priests in the 1970s. The alleged abuse began when the man was 12. The plaintiff also filed crime reports last week with the Ohio Township Police Department in Sewickley, Pennsylvania ; and also with the state's attorney general. The abuse, he said, occurred at Holy Family Institute in Emsworth . The petition names as defendants the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and Holy Family Institute.

Survivors of Clergy Abuse deserve Justice

Now 54, the plaintiff claims both Father Joseph Gerdes (phonetic spelling) and Father Larry Smith sexually assaulted him multiple times. The petition demands a jury trial and calls for punitive damages. Causes of action include civil conspiracy, fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The 2018 Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report
The plaintiff came forward after the nation refocused on Catholic priest sex abuse crimes. In August 2018 after a two-year investigation, a Pennsylvania grand jury found that at least 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children, and that church officials had covered up crimes and coddled the criminals. The grand jury also noted that their review only scratched the surface of the actual number of crimes.

Suffering in Silence

"Sadly," said attorney David Matthews , "hundreds or probably even thousands of priest sex abuse survivors continue to suffer in silence."

"In naming the plaintiff's abusers," said attorney Mr. Matthews, "the petition also seeks to help any others abused by the perpetrators. All survivors of priest abuse deserve to have their stories heard, and to demand justice from the church."

Altar Boy Abuse
The petition alleges that when the plaintiff was 12 and a ward of the state, he was sent to live at Holy Family Institute in Pittsburgh .  Made an altar boy, he was introduced to Fr. Gerdes, who lived in the same quarters.  In his car and loft, the priest groped the boy, forced him to perform oral sex, and attempted anal penetration more than once. The instances of abuse occurred more than ten times.

The petition also alleges Fr. Gerdes told the child this deviant behavior was "what God wanted," and that no one would believe him even if he did tell.

Fr. Gerdes later introduced the boy to Fr. Larry Smith , whom the plaintiff said also sexually abused him.

CONTACT: Richard Matthews , 1-713-540-6859


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