Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh accuses priest of rape

PAULA REED WARD | Friday, August 7, 2020 1:27 p.m.

This story originally appeared in Trib Live:


A man who immigrated to the United States at age 13 from Italy is suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging that he was sexually assaulted by a priest at Immaculate Conception Parish in Bloomfield twice in 1967.

The lawsuit, filed in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, also names as defendants the church, Cardinal Donald Wuerl and current Bishop David Zubik.

A spokeswoman for the diocese said they had not yet been served the complaint and that they do not comment on pending litigation.

Gennaro Greco was 13 when he moved with his family to Pittsburgh in 1963, according to the complaint. At the time, he did not know how to speak English, which his attorney said made him particularly vulnerable for abuse. He was put back two years in school, making him older and larger than other students in his class. Greco became an altar boy at Conception Parish, it said, and volunteered there with cleaning and other chores.

Twice, the lawsuit said, when he was helping to clean walls in the rectory, the Rev. Leo Burchianti took him aside, stripped off his clothes and raped him. The lawsuit said that the diocese and its bishops knew of the abuse but concealed it to preserve the church’s reputation. Shortly after the assaults, the lawsuit said, Burchianti was transferred to another parish. According to the 40th Statewide Grand Jury report, released nearly two years ago, Burchianti was moved to Our Lady of Grace in Scott in June 1968.

The report accused hundreds of priests across Pennsylvania of sexual abuse that was covered up by the church for decades. It identified 99 such priests in the Pittsburgh diocese.

The grand jury report showed that Burchianti abused at least eight boys — between 1967 and 1993 — and was allowed by the diocese to move to different assignments and remain a priest.

Three times, the grand jury report said, Burchianti, who was ordained in 1964, was sent to different facilities for treatment of “inappropriate relationships with male minors.” In 1994, the lawsuit said, then-Bishop Wuerl said Burchianti would not receive a new church assignment; however Wuerl and then-Father Zubik gave him a voluntary work assignment at St. John Vianney Manor, a home for retired priests. He remained there from 1995 to 2012.

In addition, the lawsuit said, monetary settlements were made with two people abused by Burchianti — in 1994 and 2008.

He withdrew from ministry in 2003 and died in 2013.

The complaint include claims for fraud and civil conspiracy to commit fraud and seeks monetary damages.

Source: Lawsuit against Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh accuses priest of rape

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