Lawsuits filed against Scranton Diocese

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — More sexual assault allegations have been made against a former priest from Scranton. Four alleged victims, now grown men, came forward Wednesday to tell their stories.

Lawsuits were filed on their behalf against the Scranton Diocese for not doing enough to prevent or stop abuse. The allegations made by the four men and detailed in the lawsuits stunned many here in Scranton. It is the latest chapter in what has been a deep dark story of child sex abuse that allegedly went unchecked in the Scranton Diocese for decades.

The three men say they were sexually assaulted by Father Michael Pulicare back in the 1970s. Pulicare, who died in 1999, was assistant pastor at the then-Saint Joseph’s Church in the Minooka section of Scranton. This comes in the aftermath of a statewide grand jury report released last year that detailed alleged abuse by dozens of priests in the Scranton Diocese over the last 50 years.

“Up until the grand jury report, these men thought they had been victimized by one person, actually a monster, Father Pulicare. But the grand jury report for the first time disclosed to them that others were also responsible for what happened to them, namely the Diocese and its bishops who not only allowed, but facilitated a culture allowing Father Pulicare to prey on children, and they actively conspired to cover up that abuse,” attorney Kevin Quinn said.

Named in the four separate lawsuits are former Scranton Bishop James Timlin and current Bishop Joseph Bambera. They are accused of conspiracy and fraud for allegedly not doing enough to prevent such abuse. One of the alleged victims who was identified only as M.A. was victimized inside the church rectory.

“The abuse that M.A. was subjected to at the cathedral rectory occurred when Bishop Timlin was the acting Bishop of the Diocese, resided under the same roof and knew that Father Pulicare was grooming M.A. to be a priest in training and sleeping in the same bed as M.A.,” Quinn said.

These men, now in their late 40s and 50s, were young boys at the time of the alleged crimes. They say they were friends growing up in Scranton but unaware of their common dark past.

“I thought Pulicare molested me and raped me and that was it. But when I ended up at his house during a fishing trip that he was supposedly taking me on, his mother did say something when I walked in later, that played in my mind quite a bit: ‘I hope this boy doesn’t wet the bed like that last one.’,” John Patchkoski said.

The Scranton Diocese released a statement Wednesday afternoon in response to the allegations. They question the validity of the lawsuits, say it ignores the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania and they added: “The Diocese of Scranton received the first allegations of abuse against Father Michael Pulicare in July 2018 after Pulicare had been dead for nearly 20 years and the Diocese immediately contacted law enforcement.”

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