PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The Philadelphia archdiocese has suspended 21 priests who were named in a long-awaited grand jury report into sex abuse by the clergy.
The Archdiocese, the sixth largest in the United States with 1.5 million Catholics, is under fire over accusations it concealed the sexual abuse of children by priests in an effort to avoid a costly scandal.
The grand jury report said as many as 37 priests remain in active ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse, and Bevilacqua was named in an earlier suit that accused him and Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, of concealing the identity of predatory priests.
On Monday, a retired priest was accused in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a teen-age boy.
The lawsuit, filed by a 31-year-old Delaware man, claims retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of the Archdiocese was aware of earlier sexual abuse by the accused priest, said Marci Hamilton, one of the attorneys representing the victim.
The attorneys on Monday said more lawsuits would be filed against the Archdiocese, and one lawyer, Daniel Monahan, said he has gotten calls from some 20 potential victims whose claims he is assessing.
The lawsuit filed on Monday in Common Pleas court was on behalf of Phil Gaughan, who as a boy was a sacristan.
A sacristan helps prepare the church for mass and other services.
Gaughan, who appeared at a news conference with his attorneys, said he was abused by Monsignor John Gillespie beginning in 1994 when he was 14 until he was 17.
He said he had tried to contact the Archdiocese about the abuse but got no response.
Standing with his wife Michelle and his father, also named Phil, he said: "I don't want anybody to go through what I had to go through."
The lawsuit names the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bevilacqua, Rigali, and Monsignor William Lynn, who served as secretary of the clergy for the Archdiocese under Bevilacqua. Also named is Gillespie, who died in 2008.
The suit claims Lynn and the Archdiocese knew or should have known that Gillespie had sexually abused children and that in 1994, Gillespie told Lynn he abused two boys in the past.
The earlier civil suit against Bevilacqua and Rigali was filed last month on behalf of an unidentified 28-year-old man.
This lawsuit claims the Archdiocese set up a victims' assistance program that did not protect victims but collected information from them to give to its attorneys to defend against potential charges.
Gaughan's father said the family had thought it was an honor his son was asked to serve as a church sacristan and that Gillespie had been a family friend for 40 years.
"It's a shock for a parent because it challenges your faith," the elder Gaughan said.