Former Cardinal Bevilacqua named in new clergy abuse lawsuit against Pittsburgh diocese

PITTSBURGH — A California woman claims that Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua groped her when he was a bishop and she was a student at a Pittsburgh-area elementary school in the 1980s.

Heather L. Taylor of San Diego named Bevilacqua and two other priests in a lawsuit filed Friday against the Diocese of Pittsburgh, accusing current or former church officials of fraud and conspiracy by covering up the alleged misconduct.

Though the late Philadelphia archbishop has long been accused of complicity in concealing sex abuse by diocesan priests, Taylor's claim marks the first time anyone has publicly asserted that he sexually abused a child.

The complaints, and two similar lawsuits concerning allegedly abusive priests, were filed in Allegheny County Court by Pittsburgh attorney Alan Perer. They come on the heels of last month's scathing report by a statewide grand jury that accused the diocese and five others of concealing decades of clergy sex abuse.

Taylor, 45, claims she was abused by the clerics from ages 5 to 13 on separate occasions at the school and rectory of her parish, St. Gabriel in Whitehall. Her lawsuit says the priests, the Revs. Lawrence O'Connell and Edward Huff, sexually abused her multiple times when she was a student at the school and her family belonged to the parish. In both cases, she says, the priests took her to the rectory and fondled her.

The claim against Bevilacqua is far less detailed, and doesn't include a date range or suggest repeated contact. According to the lawsuit, "during his visit to St. Gabriel's Bishop Bevilac...

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