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The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Release
Giving Voice to Victims

New child sex abuse lawsuit filed against never-accused priest

Woman was molested for 20 years and crimes happened in six states

Her legal action is possible now because of Delaware's civil 'window' law

At a sidewalk news conference, a clergy sex abuse victim will speak publicly about her experiences for the first time, expose a predator for the first time, and discuss her new civil lawsuit against a never-before-accused predator priest and the Allentown Catholic Diocese

Wednesday, May 13, 2:00 p.m.

Outside the Allentown Catholic Diocese headquarters (chancery office),4029 W. Tilghman (in the Bank of America Bldg.) in Allentown

The victim, her family, her attorneys and one or two members of a support group called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (

For nearly two decades (1964-1984), starting when she was 12, Sharon Tell was repeatedly sexually violated and manipulated by an Allentown diocesan priest, Fr. James J. McHale. The crimes largely took place in Bethlehem PA, where Tell's family lived and belonged to Notre Dame parish.

The abuse continued, however, after the family moved to Smyrna, Delaware in 1966, because McHale visited often and took her on trips (to at least six states and Rome).

The suit says that "prior to and throughout his tenure, the Diocese (knew) that McHale was sexually molesting young children (yet) they continued to allow him to serve as a priest.”McHale allegedly "used his participation in Diocesan activities as a means to ingratiate himself with Tell’s family," eventually becoming "a trusted counselor, spiritual advisor, mentor and friend to every member of the family,” but paying “special attention to Tell, pretending to provide guidance and support regarding the various aspects of struggles of childhood and adolescent life.” The suit says McHale "caused (Tell) to be in fear of harm," "caused himself to be isolated with Tell," capitalizing on the trust and friendship he had built up,” "and because of the power and trust she (put) in McHale and the church she couldn’t stop his advances even after she became an adult."

It's believed to be the first time a predator from outside of Delaware is being sued thanks to the state's 'civil window' which closes in a few weeks.

The suit is being filed in New Castle Superior Court in Delaware, seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial. Tell now lives in Morrisville PA. McHale is deceased.

Attorneys Jeff Anderson of St. Paul MN (612 817 8665 cell, 651 227 9990 office) and Tom Conaty of Wilmington DE (302 894 1111) represent Tell.

David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP national director 314 566 9790 cell, 314 645 5915 home

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests