SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A new lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Scranton alleges Father Joseph Meighan sexually abused a young boy.
“Today we are announcing the filing of a new lawsuit against the Diocese of Scranton for the sexual abuse of our client,” said Jessica Arbour, Horowitz Law.
The lawsuit was filed in Lackawanna County by attorneys Adam Horowitz and Jessica Arbour of Horowitz Law.
“The lawsuit alleges that starting around the time that our client was five years old, Father Joseph Meighan started sexually abusing him and proceeded to abuse him on multiple occasions between 1995 and 2002,” Arbour said.
Arbour says the family trusted Meighan and had known him for years.
“Meighan was close to the family. He was a frequent guest not only in the victims’ home but in the home of his grandmother and some other relatives and so it was under the guise of ministering to the family, performing masses for them, and visiting the family that the abuse would occur,” said Arbour.
The suit says Meighan baptized the victim and presided over a number of Masses attended by the victim and his family at various assignments within the Diocese of Scranton.
“He really was a revered and well-trusted priest in my client’s family, and unfortunately the Diocese of Scranton knew that he was a predator more than 20 years before the abuse actually started,” said Arbour.
Meighan was among the 301 priests identified in the 2018 Grand Jury Report that named clergy members that faced allegations of sexual misconduct.
“In those documents the Grand Jury was very clear that there was a 1970 investigation relating to four boys who complained that they were being undressed and fondled by Meighan,” said Arbour.
The report states Meighan was transferred and ordered to report for psychological evaluation and treatment.
“There was a second set of allegations according to the Grand Jury report that came up in 1990 which is the same year my client was born. In those allegations, a woman alleged that she had seen Meighan undressing her teenage son,” said Arbour.
After that incident, Meighan resigned as a pastor at St. Therese in Shavertown, Luzerne County. However, the report states that he was sent for psychological treatment again before being released and assigned to Holy Family Residence in Scranton in 1991 before being transferred back to Luzerne County to Mercy Center in Dallas in 2001.
Due to protest from one of the victim’s fathers, Meighan was reassigned again to St. Mary’s Villa Nursing Home that same year until he was removed from ministry.
“The Diocese failed to properly supervise Meighan and the children that were entrusted to his care,” said Arbour.
At least three more complaints were made in 2003, 2007 and 2008 against Meighan, the report states.
Eyewitness News reached out to the Diocese of Scranton for comment and a spokesperson said the Diocese does not comment on pending litigation.