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Lawsuit alleges Pennsylvania diocese failed to act after priest admitted to inappropriate touching

A 29-year-old former altar boy is suing a Roman Catholic diocese, alleging abuse by a now-defrocked priest whom he claims the Church knew had a history of inappropriate touching.

A civil lawsuit was filed Monday in Lehigh County, Pa., accusing the local diocese of failing to protect children from former priest Bruno Tucci after an earlier complaint. Tucci was named in a statewide grand jury report this year.

The victim in the suit, identified as John Doe, alleges he was sexually assaulted by Tucci between 1999 and 2001 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Nesquehoning, Carbon County.

“Bruno Tucci’s story is one of the worst outlined by the grand jury report in August for a whole number of reasons,” attorney Gerald Williams told a press conference Monday. “But in the context of our case, he admitted to improperly touching a young boy in the year 1991. He admitted that to diocesan officials then. The diocese did worse than nothing in that case.”

The attorney continued: “They sent (Tucci) to a facility run by the Congregation of the Servants of the Paraclete, which was not a professional therapy organization, which was not capable of dealing with pedophiles like Tucci — which, after a number of months, returned him to the diocese, which amazingly, in 1992, put him back into the same parish where he had been and where he had admitted molesting an altar boy.”

Williams explained that the suit was filed against Tucci, the diocese, its immediate past bishop and the Congregation of Servants of the Paraclete.

“This is a case that is not just about a child abuser,” Williams continued. “It’s about an organization that, for its own purposes, as we’ve alleged in the complaint, kept the abuser in an active ministry and kept him in close contact with children, including our client.”

The diocese says it has “set a clear tone of zero tolerance and of keeping children safe.” A message left for Tucci by the Associated Press wasn’t immediately returned.

The diocese mentioned in the lawsuit and several other diocese planned to create victim compensation funds following the report’s conclusion in August that hundreds of priests molested more than 1,000 children since the 1940s.

With files from the Associated Press

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