16 Oct 2008

Lawsuit claims 13 years of clergy abuse

The News Journal - Delaware

By SEAN O'SULLIVAN | The News Journal

In the ninth civil lawsuit naming convicted abuser Francis DeLuca, along with the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, an anonymous 40-year-old plaintiff claims the former priest abused him for 13 years, beginning when he was 11.

DeLuca moved from the Wilmington area to Syracuse., N.Y., in 1993, the year after the plaintiff alleges the abuse ended.

DeLuca was convicted in New York in 2007 of abusing a child and was sentenced to 60 days in prison. He was "defrocked" by the church in August.

The lawsuit, brought by attorney Thomas S. Neuberger in Kent County Superior Court, alleges DeLuca began abusing "John Doe No. 4" in 1979 and continued at least twice a week until 1992 at St. Matthew, St. Joseph on the Brandywine and on a trip to Italy with diocesan priests. As with almost all of the 24 civil suits that have been filed against the diocese alleging abuse by priests, diocesan officials on Wednesday declined comment.

Neuberger, who has filed almost all of the civil lawsuits alleging abuse by priests under the Delaware Child Victim's Act of 2007, said the assaults might not have occurred had the church acted on complaints rather than covering up allegations of abuse.

Neuberger charges the first complaints against DeLuca were lodged as far back as 1966.

A two-year window created by Delaware lawmakers to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil suits beyond the usual statute of limitations closes on July 10.

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