The Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese recently placed priests on leave amid allegations that they sexually abused children. Bishop Mark Bartchak announced on Sunday that Rev. David Arseneault and Rev. James Coveney were the subject of allegations which date back about 20 years.
The biggest question circulating in the media is why are these allegations only being brought to the public now. As attorneys experienced in representing victims of child sexual abuse, we can tell you one of the reasons may be that the victims have only now come forward with the allegations. Survivors of abuse are often not prepared to come forward and confront their abusers until many years after the abuse occurred. Fortunately for sexual abuse victims, lawyers in both the criminal and civil cases can take steps to protect the identity of the victims. For example, our law firm identifies victims in court paperwork using a pseudonym such as John Doe.
Assuming that the statute of limitations (the time period to file charges or legal claims) has not expired, the victims of the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic sex abuse case should be able to seek criminal and civil justice. This means trying to send Rev. David Arseneault and Rev. James Coveney to jail, and also suing them and possibly the church if it failed to take appropriate action to protect the victims.
It is no coincidence that the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (the churches political lobbying division) has been hard at work in Harrisburg over the past few years trying to defeat legislation which was introduced to expand the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse victims to make sure they receive justice. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has spent countless dollars on lobbyists who have thus far inexplicably convinced legislatures that allowing victims a greater time period to come forward with their allegations is a bad thing.
Andreozzi + Foote represents sexual abuse victims in civil lawsuits. Our firm is well-known for its work on behalf of abuse victims, including representing 11 of Jerry Sandusky’s victims. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a crime and are interested in exploring a your legal options, please contact us at 717.525.9124 for a free consultation.