PHILADELPHIA — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia was hit yesterday with the fourth in a series of lawsuits that blame church officials for failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests.
The lawsuits mirror accusations made by city prosecutors in a grand jury report last month that led several priests to be charged with rape and, in a rare move, a church official to be charged with child endangerment.
Yesterday’s suit, filed by a 32-year-old Arizona man, is the second that names the late Monsignor John E. Gillespie as the abuser. A 2005 grand jury report said Gillespie was alleged to have committed abuse, but frustrated prosecutors concluded that deadlines had passed to file criminal charges.
The “John Doe’’ who sued yesterday said Gillespie had abused him from 1988 to 1991, when he was an altar boy at Our Lady of Calvary parish in northeast Philadelphia. Gillespie continued to work around children despite repeated complaints to the archdiocese and even after Gillespie was sent for sexual-abuse treatment sometime before 1991, the suit said.
The suit relies on findings by the latest grand jury, which alleged the archdiocese was using its victim-services office to protect church interests, not victims. The 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report alleges that Gillespie’s abuse dated as far back as 1957.
The civil lawsuits each seek more than $50,000 in damages.