Clergy Sex Abuse Class Action Filed Against Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse and the U.S. Catholic Church face a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of individuals who were sexually abused or raped by priests as children. 

The complaint (PDF) was filed last month against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as Bishop Robert J. Cunningham, the estate of Charles Eckermann, Paul Angelicchio, the estate of James Quinn, Jacqueline Bressette and up to 200 unidentified priests.

The lawsuit was brought in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, seeking class action status to represent all others who were “tortured and raped” by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. The lead plaintiff indicates that he was an altar boy during a wedding at St. Ann’s in Manlius in 1988, when he was just 15 years old, and Angelicchio sexually assaulted him while Eckermann looked on. Months later, Eckermann allegedly raped him while Angelicchio stood guard, and Quinn later joined in on clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

The abuse including instances of torture and violent rape, as well as threats against the child’s life, which continued until his confirmation in September 1989, the lawsuit claims. The claims were brought to the Diocese in 2013, which determined that the charges were credible.

“The priests that raped Kevin, Defendants Eckermann, Angelicchio, and Quinn, were part of a larger network of priests who raped children and were sheltered and protected by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse from at least the 1940s, if not earlier, until the present day,” the lawsuit states. “The Diocese collected and literally sheltered known child rapist priests in Syracuse in a coordinated scheme to protect the Church from liability and defraud parishioners who donated countless amounts of money that was then used to pay for the legal defense of rapist priests.”

The lawsuit indicates that the diocese knew there was a problem with the priests. A family reportedly told the Diocese that Eckermann had sexually abused two of their sons between 1984 and 1988. It had also been warned that Quinn and Angelicchio had sexually assaulted numerous children. The Syracuse Police Department had also warned the Diocese that Eckermann, who had taken a vow of chastity, was soliciting male prostitutes.

Eckermann, a Monsignor at the time, was defrocked by the church in 2014. Before that, he was appointed as principal of Bishop Ludden High School in 1984, only to be removed days later with no explanation. Eckermann died in 2016.

Catholic Church Sex Abuse Allegations

The lawsuit comes amid heightened attention to Catholic Church sex abuse scandals, as dioceses nationwide have been releasing lists of priests facing what the church considers credible accusations of sexual assault against minors and vulnerable adults. The lists began to come out several months after an August 2018 grand jury report highlighted cases involving at least 90 Catholic priests accused of sex abuse in the Pittsburgh area, involving allegations and cover-ups that spanned decades.

That report indicated that the Catholic Church of Pennsylvania covered up abuse involving priests who abused more than 1,000 victims, mostly children, over the course of 70 years. After 90 of those priests were identified, it sparked investigations by the Justice Department and states’ attorneys general nationwide.

The spotlight on the issue has renewed some efforts to level sex abuse litigation against the Church. Last month, an attorney representing a number of victims announced that the Catholic Church had agreed to settle at least five sexual abuse lawsuits brought against a former priest in New Jersey.

6 Comments

  • MarkOctober 25, 2022 at 1:07 am

    Hello my name is Mark verdu and I and I have been a victim of 1977 around that time somewhere else on minor back in the seventies of a priest named Father Michael Kelly he's from somewhere Marin County somewhere like that he was a pastor at the at the St James Church in Petaluma California I come from a family of eight brothers I've never told any of my family members or anybody I travel with them[Show More]Hello my name is Mark verdu and I and I have been a victim of 1977 around that time somewhere else on minor back in the seventies of a priest named Father Michael Kelly he's from somewhere Marin County somewhere like that he was a pastor at the at the St James Church in Petaluma California I come from a family of eight brothers I've never told any of my family members or anybody I travel with them all over California for several times to go to servants and went to churches and went to parks and took me to Disneyland took me all over the place even bought me marijuana and then he when I went to sleep when we spend the night at places I'd wake up and he'll be touching me I don't know like talking about this no one knows about this I'd want to know what the fuck is going on because I'm getting pissed off I'm getting mad that I'm getting text messages every day from people you guys keep sending me out of this money or something coming to me I just want to I just want to deserve what's owed to me and I want to go on with my life I'm homeless practically now I only have a Harley Davidson and that's my pride and joy I have beautiful kids and beautiful Ex-Wives but I don't have any of their I don't talk to none of them because of my situation in my life that took me down this road of my life and I'm tired of it I would like an Absolution for this if not I think you guys are are really mean for opening up book pages in my life that I've never opened up in 50 years so now fix it make it right send me some freaking money and let me live my life again let me have my life back let me have my my trust in myself back and my My Serenity and everything else I've tried so hard to be perfect in life and never became that good in life I've done very well in some parts of my life but other than that I'm very hurt right now and all this is opening up pages that do not want to open I would like them close forever I'd expect an answer from somebody if I don't hear from it if I hear text messages I swear I'm going to go go berserk and it's making me feel unwanted and and misplaced so fix this now I deserve an outcome of this and to start my life without supposed to be helping people in the world who have problems like this helping the kids that been hurt by other people helping kids that on drugs helping kids do things right and understanding that life just goes on as long as you put your heart and your soul into it so if you can't help me I don't know what to do I'm about ready to give up and I don't want to give up cuz I'm too old and I've been this far in life I've been everywhere in life and I don't want to fall back down in my face I have a problem and I want it fixed if you guys can't help me then I don't know what this say God bless you all my name is Mark peace out

  • LarryFebruary 22, 2021 at 11:54 pm

    I have been getting texts saying my case is decided and funds are available so will I be notified somehow or what happens now?

  • BrandonDecember 19, 2020 at 4:26 am

    Please look into my case i have picture's took when i was in boyscouts, but the boyscouts wasn't even the worst of it foster care an a youth detention center in GA. It was multiple homes...

  • TheresaNovember 21, 2020 at 7:52 pm

    What if the priest is now dead and I’ve lived in silence for 47 years trying so hard to “trust” men. Robbed of my innocence and treated as second class by my mother all her years: as if I did something to attract him!

  • Melinda K.September 18, 2020 at 6:59 pm

    What if it had nothing to do with the church. Or the child just thought he was a brother to a boy neighbor and his family. What if she found out later that he was a rifle shooter in the army. Or the one that carried the communication radio thing during Korean after wars. What if the real victim told. And then that man ended up saying he was my dad and got my mom to divorce my real dad. What if I'm[Show More]What if it had nothing to do with the church. Or the child just thought he was a brother to a boy neighbor and his family. What if she found out later that he was a rifle shooter in the army. Or the one that carried the communication radio thing during Korean after wars. What if the real victim told. And then that man ended up saying he was my dad and got my mom to divorce my real dad. What if I'm still here.

  • JoshusJuly 26, 2020 at 7:56 pm

    Not comfortable

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