In late 2013, the former pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Northeast Philadelphia was placed on administrative leave by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput after allegations that he sexually abused multiple children in the 1970s. 72-year-old Father John P. Paul is accused of sexually abusing minors while serving as a seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. These allegations were reported to law enforcement, but after a long investigation, no charges were filed.
On November 6, 2013, Father Paul resigned from his position as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish. Shortly following this resignation, the archdiocese was contacted with several new allegations that the priest had sexually abused other minors in the 1980s.
Father Paul was active in many parishes and schools from the 1970s until 2013, including:
The archdiocese has asked anyone seeking to report allegations of sexual abuse to contact local law enforcement or the archdiocesan Office for Investigations at 1-888-930-9010.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent is a former prosecutor who now represents the survivors of sexual violence in civil court. We’ve asked him for some insight into the legal options available to survivors of Catholic Church sexual abuse in Pennsylvania:
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations laws for sexual abuse are outdated. As of November 2018, the criminal statute of limitations ends when the victim turns 50 years old. The civil statute of limitations, which allows victims to file lawsuits, ends at the victim’s 30th birthday. However, activists have been pressuring state lawmakers to extend these windows following the release of a Grand Jury report detailing the widespread scope of sexual abuse in Catholic Church dioceses across Pennsylvania.
If you were sexually abused as a child in the Catholic Church, you have legal rights. Even if the statute of limitations has expired, these laws could change soon. A November 14 legislative session ended without changes to reform, but victims and activists will return to Harrisburg in January to continue their fight for justice.
If you’d like to learn more about your legal options as a survivor of child sexual abuse, we advise speaking to an experienced catholic church abuse lawyer.