Archdiocese of Philadelphia Named in Civil Suit
(For Immediate Release April 19, 2023)
A civil complaint was filed yesterday against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and former priest Kevin Barry McGoldrick. The lawsuit, entered in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia County, accused the Archdiocese of permitting and facilitating sexual abuse by McGoldrick and of covering up complaints of sexual assaults by him for more than 10 years. We are grateful to the victim, “Jane Doe” both for speaking out and for her persistence, and we hope that her courage will embolden any others who may have been hurt in the Catholic Church to come forward, report their abuse to the police, and begin healing.
McGoldrick was ordained for the Archdiocese in 2003, but in 2013 he left Philadelphia for a job as a chaplain at Aquinas College in Tennessee, which is part of the Diocese of Nashville. However, the complaint in the new lawsuit states that the Archdiocese opened an investigation into claims of sexual abuse by McGoldrick in 2013, immediately before his transfer to Nashville.
Jane Doe, who was a student at Aquinas during McGoldrick’s tenure there, reported to the Nashville Diocese in 2019 that the priest sexually assaulted her in 2017. While Nashville never opened an investigation into the accusation, this intrepid survivor eventually filed a police report and a lawsuit against the Diocese in 2020. The civil action was settled in May, 2020 for $65,000.
Concerned that Fr. McGoldrick may have hurt other young women in earlier assignments, Jane Doe also reported her assault to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in July, 2019. The Archdiocese found the accusation "credible" in January, 2020, and suspended Fr. McGoldrick's priestly faculties. McGoldrick subsequently requested laicization.
We observed in 2021 that it seemed likely to us that McGoldrick must have been known to be a problem before he was assigned outside of the Archdiocese. The red flags were that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput approved McGoldrick’s transfer to Nashville when there was a priest shortage in Philadelphia, and that there was no announcement of the Tennessee accusations by the Archdiocese. If McGoldrick was indeed moved to another state and diocese after being accused of sexual assault, we have serious concerns about the way Archbishop Chaput handled that 2013 accusation.
It now appears that at least three complaints have been made against the former priest, and yet his name still does not appear on the Archdiocese’s list of accused clerics. While Jane Doe was presumably over the age of majority when she was assaulted, we do not know whether the other two victims were adults or children. However, even if all were grown-ups, it would seem that the Catholic Church now acknowledges that even men and women can be victimized by clergy, and in the interest of complete transparency, McGoldrick’s name, photo and his complete assignment history should be added to the Philadelphia list.
We know that McGoldrick worked in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2003 to 2013, including at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and School. Catholics4Change has provided a list of additional Philadelphia assignments. We also know that he worked at Aquinas College from 2013 to 2017, and at Overbrook School/St. Cecilia Academy, also in Nashville, from 2017-2020. In all of McGoldrick’s priestly assignments, countless young women and girls were in contact with him and would have trusted him completely because he was a clergyman.
We encourage anyone who experienced, witnessed, or suspected clergy sexual abuse in either the Archdiocese of Philadelphia or the Diocese of Nashville to make an immediate report to law enforcement. What happened was not your fault, and you are not alone. There are people who will believe you and support you. It is time to come forward and begin healing, and to hold the perpetrators and their enablers accountable.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for more than 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)