STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WROC) — The Jesuits of New York, a current Catholic bishop, and two former Catholic bishops in the Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania Diocese have been sued for conspiracy and fraud for transferring a seminarian who they knew molested children in Rochester, to a parish in State College, Pennsylvania.
The plaintiffs, identified as John Does, attended Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in State College and were sexually abused by Father Leonard Riforgiato. Sometimes with assaults taking place in the presence of another Jesuit priest, Father Joseph Riley. One of the abuse victims took his own life when he was only 32 years old.
Riforgiato was previously named on a list of credible sex abuse claims back in January. He was at McQuaid from 1964 to 1966. The reported abuse happened during this time frame, according to the Jesuits USA Northeast Province.
Riforgiato died in 1999 after teaching 27 years as an Associate Professor of History and the Shenango Valley Campus of PSU, where he also worked with Youth Groups.
Both suits, against the Jesuits of New York and the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, were filed on Monday, August 12, 2019, in Centre County, Pennsylvania.
Father Riley, USA Northeast Province of the Society Jesus, John J. Cicero, Bishop Mark Bartchak, and the estates of Joseph V Adamec and James J Hogan are also named as defendants.
In June, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a landmark ruling that has the potential for more lawsuits to be filed by abuse victims against supervisors who ignored or hid child sex abuse crimes.
The Jesuits USA Northeast Province released this statement Tuesday in response to the lawsuit:
“The USA Northeast Province of the Society of Jesus is fully cooperating with all civil authorities and legal counsel on all matters regarding allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.
Any instance of abuse by a religious person is a profound violation of trust that causes pain and damage for the abused and their families, local communities and the Church at large. The Jesuits stand by all victims and encourage them to come forward to report any instance of abuse in their efforts to seek justice and healing.
The USA Northeast Province has and will continue to strive to extend a healing presence to all victims of sexual abuse, while working toward eradicating sexual abuse from the Church and wider society.”