Northeast Times

Breaking News: Northeast man alleges abuse in suit against archdiocese

A Holmes­burg man who al­leges he was mo­les­ted at a North­east Cath­ol­ic par­ish school, was among nine plaintiffs who on Tues­day filed eight law­suits against the Arch­diocese of Phil­adelphia, its lead­er­ship and sev­en priests.

At a Cen­ter City news con­fer­ence, Vista Street res­id­ent An­drew Drud­ing said he was re­peatedly raped by Monsignor Fran­cis Fer­et dur­ing the early 1970s at St. Timothy R.C. Church’s school on the 3000 block of Levick St.

Drud­ing said Fer­et took ad­vant­age of him when he was 9 years old and did “un­speak­able things” to him.

“I’ve been im­pacted every day of my life,” he said.

The city’s Ro­man Cath­ol­ic arch­diocese in May had said Fer­et was un­suit­able for min­istry after in­vest­ig­at­ing sexu­al mis­con­duct al­leg­a­tions against him for more than a year.

Drud­ing said he was out­raged that the reas­on Fer­et was ruled un­suit­able was for “bound­ary vi­ol­a­tions,” not for rap­ing him. He said he was later told his case wasn’t even part of the arch­diocese’s de­cision on Fer­et.

Fer­et was pas­tor of St. Adal­bert par­ish in Port Rich­mond in 2011 when then-Car­din­al Justin Rigali put him on leave. Fer­et’s pre­vi­ous as­sign­ments in­clud­ing chap­lain for the Pro­vin­cial House of the Sis­ters of the Holy Fam­ily of Naz­areth on the 9700 block of Frank­ford Ave.

Most plaintiffs who file suits in mo­lesta­tion cases do so as either John or Jane Does, but Drud­ing was one of three who made their iden­tit­ies pub­lic. Drud­ing and Mi­chael Mc­Don­nell spoke at a news con­fer­ence called by their at­tor­neys, Marci Hamilton, Dan Mo­n­ahan and Jeff An­der­son. The third al­leged vic­tim, Mi­chael Dale, was not present Tues­day, nor were the un­named plaintiffs.

Drud­ing said he began to at­tend St. Timothy’s and joined its choir in 1970 when he was sent to live with re­l­at­ives while his par­ents were di­vor­cing. From 1967 to ’78, while Fer­et was a coun­selor at Car­din­al Dougherty High School, he lived at St. Timothy’s and served as its choir dir­ect­or, Drud­ing’s law­yers stated in a press re­lease.

Drud­ing, who is now 51, said Fer­et re­peatedly mo­les­ted him between Oc­to­ber 1970 and June 1972. It stopped, he said Tues­day, be­cause he began liv­ing with his moth­er again and no longer at­ten­ded St. Timothy’s.

In his law­suit, Drud­ing stated he com­plained about the ab­use to a teach­er while he was at­tend­ing St. Timothy’s. He said he was brought to the school’s “moth­er su­per­i­or,” who was not named in the law­suit, who asked him if he knew what ly­ing was. Drud­ing said he was sent home and Fer­et con­tin­ued on at St. Timothy’s.

He didn’t com­plain again, he said, un­til 2006, when he saw Fer­et was of­fi­ci­at­ing at the fu­ner­al of slain Phil­adelphia Po­lice Of­ficer Gary Sker­ski. He said he was astoun­ded Fer­et still was a priest.

The at­tor­neys said the suits they filed Tues­day bring their total com­plaints against the arch­diocese to 16 for 17 mo­lesta­tion vic­tims.

Be­sides Fer­et, suits were filed against former priest Ed­ward Avery, the Rev. Robert L. Bren­nan, the Rev. Joseph Galla­gh­er, the Rev. John Mul­hol­land, the Rev. John Schmeer and former priest Fran­cis X. Trauger.

In March, Avery pleaded guilty to mo­lest­ing a St. Jerome’s par­ish al­tar boy in the late 1990s. He had been ar­res­ted in early 2011. In his law­suit, Dale said Avery mo­les­ted him at a Drexel Hill, Pa., par­ish in the early 1970s.

Also named in all the law­suits are the arch­diocese, its cur­rent lead­er, Arch­bish­op Charles Chaput, former head Car­din­al Justin Rigali and Monsignor Wil­li­am Lynn. In­di­vidu­al par­ishes also were named in the sep­ar­ate suits. In Drud­ing’s case, St. Timothy’s Cath­ol­ic School is a de­fend­ant.

Lynn, who served as sec­ret­ary for clergy un­der Car­din­al An­thony Bevilac­qua, had in­vest­ig­ated Avery for the arch­diocese but had ar­ranged for him to live at St. Jerome’s after con­clud­ing Avery was guilty of sexu­al mis­con­duct. Lynn was con­victed of one count of child en­dan­ger­ment on June 22 and has been im­prisoned ever since while ap­peal­ing his con­vic­tion.

Hamilton said the arch­diocese has long con­spired to cov­er up child mo­lesta­tion by its priests.

In a state­ment Tues­day af­ter­noon, the arch­diocese said it had not re­ceived cop­ies of the law­suits and couldn’t provide any in­form­a­tion on them.

“We be­lieve law­suits are not the best mech­an­ism to pro­mote heal­ing in the con­text of the very private and dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances of sexu­al ab­use,” the state­ment read. “We will work to as­sure all vic­tims of sexu­al ab­use re­ceive ap­pro­pri­ate as­sist­ance.”

Re­port­er John Loftus can be reached at 215-354-3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at jloftus@bsmphilly.com.

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