Ellwood Priest Accused of Abusing Siblings, Diocese Ignored Reports by Victim, According to New Lawsuit

A just filed lawsuit claims that a man and his sister were sexually abused by an Elwood priest and that the sister's allegations were ignored by the Catholic Church when first reported in the 1990s. We applaud these brave survivors for coming forward and call for Diocesan officials to come clean about what happened when the abuse was first reported and why no action was taken.

According to the complaint, William Schneider and his sister were both abused by Fr. James Somma, who befriended the family in order to groom and molest the children in the 1960s. Fr. Somma has been accused of abuse many times and we believe that this news will likely bring other survivors out of the woodwork. We hope that anyone who was hurt by this cleric will come forward and make a report to the police.

An especially disturbing element of this lawsuit is that Catholic officials from the Diocese of Pittsburgh ignored the allegations brought by the sister when she reported her abuse to them in the 1990s. We can only imagine how many other children were hurt by Fr. Somma because of the shameful decision by Diocesan leaders to take no action. Those Catholic officials should be held accountable for their indifference to the suffering of victims and for their willingness to put other children in harm’s way.

We hope that anyone who had been hurt by Fr. Somma or any other priest from the Diocese of Pittsburgh will be inspired by this news to come forward, make a report to police and prosecutors, and start healing. 

CONTACT: Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Regional Leader, (636-433-2511, [email protected]), Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected])

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant