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Tuesday, October 20 2020 @ 11:01 PM CDT

Christianity Today: Not Safe for Children

Whited Sepulchers

Priest named in new suit

Plaintiff was altar boy at St. John the Beloved

By BETH MILLER
A third anonymous lawsuit alleging child sexual abuse by the Rev. Francis G. DeLuca was filed Friday in Delaware Superior Court against the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

In the suit, the 56-year-old plaintiff alleges more than 100 acts of sexual abuse by DeLuca from 1962 to 1965, starting when the alleged victim was 10 years old. According to the suit, the victim was an altar boy supervised by DeLuca at St. John the Beloved Church.

The suit, filed in Kent County, is the third anonymous DeLuca-related complaint filed this year and the fourth since Delaware's Child Victim's Act went into effect last July. The law eliminated the civil statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse and opened a two-year "window" during which previously time-barred complaints could be filed.

Robert Quill of Florida, the first to file suit under the new law, settled his case against DeLuca, the diocese and St. Elizabeth's Church earlier this year for an undisclosed sum.

The four DeLuca-related cases filed so far cover 14 years -- 1961-75 -- of the priest's 35-year ministry in the Diocese of Wilmington. DeLuca was allowed to retire to Syracuse when allegations of sexual abuse arose against him in 1993. He was arrested in 2006, pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a teenage relative and was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

Attorney Stephen J. Neuberger, whose firm has represented all four DeLuca-related plaintiffs, said he expects to file two more DeLuca-related cases this month.

The plaintiff in Friday's suit is identified in court papers as John Doe No. 3. In such cases, the name of the plaintiff is revealed to the defendants.

"This is someone we knew about before the suit was filed," said Anthony Flynn, attorney for the diocese.

DeLuca, who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., is not named as a defendant in the three most recent suits.

"If we're not able to settle with the diocese, we will amend the suit and add DeLuca as a defendant before the window closes next July," Neuberger said.

In the suit, the plaintiff alleges that church officials knew in 1962 that DeLuca was sexually abusing boys, but allowed him to continue serving at parishes, including St. John the Beloved.

Doe No. 3 alleges that he was sexually abused by DeLuca in the priest's bedroom in the rectory, in the basement of the rectory, in the teacher's lounge of the church's school, in a house across from the church, at drive-in theaters at Prices Corner and Pleasant Hill, and on church trips to Philadelphia and New York.

The suit claims that because of the abuse, the plaintiff became depressed, abused alcohol and drugs, and struggled in personal relationships.

Meanwhile, a suit filed June 6 against DeLuca, the diocese and St. Elizabeth's Church by Ronald R. Santee Sr. of Taberg, N.Y., was withdrawn earlier this week. In an e-mail to The News Journal on Friday, Santee's Wilmington attorney, James Bailey, said he was at a seminar and unable to comment on the case.

delawareonline.com


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