Two Philly Bishops to Be Named in Civil Case

Click here to read: “Bishops Cullen and Cistone To Be Named Defendants in Ongoing Civil Case Against Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog, August 21, 2012

Excerpt: “They may have escaped criminal prosecution, but according to a memorandum of law filed Monday in Common Pleas Court, Bishops Edward P. Cullen and Joseph R. Cistone can expect to be named as defendants in an ongoing civil case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the sexual abuse of a former 10-year-old altar boy.”

48 thoughts on “Two Philly Bishops to Be Named in Civil Case

  1. Good ,Hopefully the pew Catholics will see the obvious and STOP feeding this criminal organization !

    1. Moving up the ladder. Any case, civil or criminal is a good case. Hopefully, The legal ststem will continue to move upward. This scandal goes all the way to the top.. I would like to see the pope in prison pin stripes, Not much chance of that.

    2. We have been fussing a bit with Cipriano’s post, on another thread and I would repeat my question.

      I understand that we are talking about a ‘civil’ action, but am unclear why, this situation should not be a matter for the DA?

      1. OR, put another way…..Cipriano’s opening sentence is what I am questioning: “They may have escaped criminal prosecution, ” and my question is WHY?

      2. Remember OJ. Criminal case concluded not guilty but he got his pants sued off in a civil suit. another thing to remember is that the standard of proof is higher in a criminal case, beyond the shadow of a doubt. Not so in a civil suit.

        My guess is that the DA doesn’t feel that he can meet the standard of evidence required. Lynn was acquitted on the conspiracy charge because it was so lame.

  2. I agree with Jim. If the bishops can be taken down through our legal system – good going. The vatican – judging from the ruling from the West Coast, our courts ruled that priests are not employees of the vatican and, therefore, the vatican cannot be held responsible for what they do – will never be called to account for itself. Interesting isn’t it since the vatican is giving refuge to the former cardinal Law of Boston (I wonder if once you reach bishophood you become a vatican employee). So, perhaps it’s time for us to rethink our moniker – are we “Catholic” or “Christian”? Catholic can mean universal. Christian can mean only one thing – a believer in Our Lord Jesus Christ, saviour, brother; a follower of His Way. Do we really need the hierarchy to be Christian or do we need it to be Catholic?

    1. With all due respect to Jim (with whom I almost always agree) and Gina ….the reason I keep asking the question about DA’s involvement is that for ever so many years, bishops have gotten ‘prosecutorial passes’ in these abuse cases.

      Now I don’t know what the truth of the matter is in this instance. And far more sophisticated legal players may well understand why we are talking about ‘civil’ actions…but I would not mind a bit hearing from Jerry on this one?

      1. Joan,the shredded memo appeared a few weeks before the start of the Lynn trial. It seemed to be a type of Hail Mary pass by Lynn’s defense, but what it also did was provide evidence as to the involvement of others. New evidence. There are probably a multitude of reasons for lack of indictments that some could offer but I like to say “yet” indictments of others “yet”. There was an excellent article in Sunday’s Inquirer about the style and policies of the DA’s office under the direction of Seth Williams..a very long article I am only half way through but gives some insight into indictments/arrests and his style compared to Abraham. The article seems to portray Abraham as being quick to indict/arrest however after the 2005 report not one indictment,and the awful laws in Pa dealing with child sex abuse were certainly no help.
        If Williams style is slow and deliberate to make a case stick then that is great .If others will go uncharged..a tragedy. Time will tell.

      2. Joan it might be worth looking into age of survivor. Civil might be only way now. I am not sure how old he is. Might have filed this past case before his age changed. Also enough evidence for civil not criminal case against bishops possibly but would good to hear what a lawyer thinks.

      3. Kathy, I read the 11 pages of that article and am glad Seth Williams has set up an effective system…the cases did appear to be violent crime, with police and prosecutors mixing it up, to substantiate convictions where possible.

        This abuse stuff is a bit different and we have just witnessed the ‘thoroughness’ of the prosecutors in terms of the incredible complexity of the data presented to the jury.

        My question is a bit different. Granted that there is ‘new evidence’ acquired from the Lynn trial, if lawyers pursue a ‘civil’ case against those bishops….does that process preclude a later ‘criminal’ case if the DA so decides?

        Wish I’d gone to law school?

      4. And Beth, I think the victim, Billy, falls within the right time zone, or else you would not be having a criminal trial dealing with Spero and Englehart.

      5. I don’t think any civil suit would ever preclude criminal.Civil suits were already filed against some of the players in the Lynn trial including Lynn. I am sure however that going into a civil suit with a criminal judgement is certainly a plus

      6. Joan,
        I think you are right but when you file it can take a year or more to go to court. The upcoming case was filed I believe at the same time as the lynn case and if he just filed in time and his time ran out even if new evidence comes out they might not be able to prosceute criminally. Maybe as Kathy said they are trying to piece together something that will definitely stick. You are asking a very good question.

      7. Joan, please see the reply I just added to your related questions in the prior thread. I hope it helps.

    2. Depending on how much you know and need protecting. In Australia, they move up the ecclesiastical ladder the same way, some of them through the bishop’s conference, that ALWAYS gives them more credibility.
      We have a good example at the moment.

    3. We do not need the hierarchy to be call Christian or Catholic. They do not represent Jesus and His Teachings.

  3. Kathy only if they plead guitly not no contest. No contest does not help in a civil suit…….it’s like starting all over again.

      1. Yes Kathy I believe you are right………..I guess I jumped to what I experienced before that they plead no contest because they knew a civil suit was coming………thanks for noting the difference………

    1. Beth, concerning your earlier questions about the new Philly AD
      foundation, it seems very much driven by Chaput’s pressing need for funds. Wealthy Philly Catholics want to save the elite high schools for their kids. The foundation, and possibly future state education aid for the foundation, may help do that.

      These wealthy Catholics can support their own local parochial schools directly so don’t need the foundation at that level. Poor Philly Catholics are on their own.

      This is similar to the US bishops and Chaput’s national effort with the elite Catholic donor groups like the Knights of Malta and Bishop Bransfield’s Papal Foundation, etc. to support a presidential candidate who will keep US taxes down on the wealthy in exchange for large donations to the pope and bishops. It’s a kind of “rent the Church” to the highest bidder. Just follow the money!

      1. Jerry,
        I was wondering if a foundation manages the schools does that shield the AD from lawsuits in the future if abuse occurs in the high schools. Especially since we had been talking about relgious of certain oreders in AD schools especially high schools.

      2. Jerry,
        I went to Prendie I loved that school and what the nuns taught us. “elite” lol not sure if I would use that word. There are tons of private catholics schools the rich can send their kids too. I always thought of Prendie as the feeder local parchocial school.I know many stufdents that struggled to pay their own tuition there.But I understand the point you are trying to get across.Things are changing and yes tuitions are rising and it is getting to look more like a private school.

      3. The independent foundation that will run the high schools is the result of people raising mass quantities of funds last spring to keep the high schools on the hit list open. The AD marveled at the millions raised by despondent parents and alumni in a few short weeks. It wants a permanent piece of that reaction! The new-wave, visionary in name only, and hardly “independent” (nothing associated with the AD is EVER independent) foundation was created to ensure that the profusion of money that appeared during the “School Spring” hit list uproar is an annual event in the years to come.

        Get real, Philly folks! You showed the mega-money! Now, the AD is following it.

      4. Interesting arrangement… the AD will continue to negotiate with unions; this will not be in the foundation’s domain of responsibility. Thinking about the implications…

        Jerry, these schools are not eltie, maybe the private Catholic academies would be in that category. This is important since those who led the fundraising were average folks and this demonstrates their power.

        Maybe each HS needs its own parent-run foundation; they control the money not the AD shell game. I am reimnded of the parish in St. Louis where the property is owned by the parishoners not the AD. Whole different dynamic

      5. There are many,many private school options in the area that fit the elite category. The Archdiocesan high schools are an alternative to the public school system but most of the wealthy would pick from the private schools. The public school system in Philly is like a sinking ship and will probably be moving towards a system of charter schools and my money is on the fact that is what will happen to the Catholic schools in the city, more like a charter school system with state money.

      6. Chaput will try to stay in control of his struggling AD high schools, with the goal of molding these students into his future, loyal “pew sitters”. But he’s got an uphill climb there…I hear a lot of anger and disgust from AD high school parents for him and his accomplices and their games involving catholic children.

        These AD high school families are not wealthy or elite –but hard working and middle class..The AD high schools are compromised partly because the many area private catholic prep schools attract not only the upper middle class families, but also much of the talent (academic and athletic, musical etc..) from around Phila. These private schools have endowments and proud, strong alumni organizations which are constantly working to raise support and donations…guaranteeing status and longevity. As I see it, for various reasons, this was lacking in the AD high schools (with a few exceptions, over the years.)

      7. Martin and Crystal, I use the term “elite” and “wealthy” for schools that charge tuition. Unless these high schools are free, you need as parents to have excess funds to pay for an education that is supposedly already available publicly out of tax revenues.

        I went to the best Catholic high school on Long Island (Brooklyn) which was free for everyone. Each parish would be assessed but that was before $3 billion was being spent to defend the likes of Lynn.

        If more children apply to these schools than there are seats, who gets accepted? The one who can pay for it has been my experience in recent years. Chaput should get out of the way and let creative Catholic parents run schools that are not burdened by the “priest abuse” tax. Many of them know more about Jesus’ message than Chaput and his priests appear to know!

        Meanwhile, the same dangerous clerics will be calling the shots and using the high schools to brainwash another generation of young Catholics about the “good Fathers and Bishops”.

        If Chaput would really turn the schools over to lay people without retaining ultimate control, that would be another matter. But he will no more do that than have a really independent child protection review board with a competent and independent annual audit. He is just putting a new wrapper on the failed system of Krol, Bevilacqua and Rigali.

        Just more smoke and mirrors–haven’t we had enough?

        Kate is right. Until these felons are all locked up, they will continue to operate as felons. while throwing an occasional loser like Lynn to the wolves when they have to.

      8. I wonder if setting up this new foundation to run the High schools is a way to hide some of the Archdiocese’s money. I don’t trust these guys for a minute. No, not a minute, I don’t trust them for a second. I think they see the handwriting on the wall. If they can find ways to hide the money to keep it from victims in civil case settlements, they will do it. After all, we’re all after their money.

      9. Jim, not hiding it so much as building a fence around it and the fence building is happening in plain sight.

        I think this is a preliminary tactic related to a bankruptcy filing coming in the fall.

        Gotta admit this is a lot slicker than the shell game Dolan played with the Catholic cemeteries in Milwaukee. This wasn’t cooked up by some clerics.

  4. Who needs to be reminded that the Catholic Church is an utterly corrupt and dysfunctional institution? Throw all concerns and issues associated with it out the window, including the schools. Focus ONLY on using the courts to incarcerate every last criminal and conspiring cleric, and using legislative bodies to protect people. Permit this toxic institution to drop dead.

  5. After the trial in 2 weeks Seth and his crew are done chasing the AD of Phila. Cullen, Cistone and the others are safe from criminal prosecution. Unless something and or SOMEONE pops up the Phila DA is done…Susan and or Kathy might be able to share what they have heard off the record..As for the Foundation managing the high schools and special education, the AD has created a slick way of protecting cash.. The cash coming in can not and will not be subject of any bankruptcy filing made by the Phila AD. This is all about $$$ for Chaput and the Phila AD and the victims are just collateral damage..That “Catholic Guilt” comes to roost not only for the pew sheep but also for those wealthy Catholics in the Phila AD. Throw cash at “IT” and the problem will go away….Do not be surprised when the AD files for protection as its just a matter of time…

    1. I was wondering if this was a way to separate money. I think survivors should be reimbursed first .Many people might not be contributing to the AD for fear it goes to legal fees so I guess this is away to raise money and some people might not have fear it goes to the AD. I think alot of catholics feel this way and that might be a driving force in this also.

  6. Hadit…my sentiments exactly.
    I went to the Madames of the (Sacre Couer)Sacred Heart, Private Catholic High School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan,for one year.(!945) I was a convert and it was very intimidating with only .6-7 girls in each class. I met many wonderful people I still hold dear today. I don’t know if the AD of Detroit had a thing to do with the School. I think it was completely out of their relm..I have no idea where the priests came from,(for confession) probably from St. Paul next door to the school. If this is possibly irrelevant to the discussion …Sorry! Just wondered.

  7. Once in awhile, the conduct (in this instance, that of Philadelphia Church leadership) is a perfect fit for the conduct in question:


    1. Sleight of hand.
    2. A show of skill or deceitful cleverness
    3. Cunning deception or trickery

  8. Is there anyone reading this who thinks that Catholic Priests must not be allowed the choice to marry, even if they meet someone with whom they fall in love or have a child? (How cruel to them and their partner and child.) If so, what is the reason that Catholic Priests should not be allowed to marry? Jesus selected married men as Apostles.

    1. Mark the rule was made because of money and corruption……….what else is new???? They were married before………they should be able to marry again

  9. Things aren’t sitting well with me from where I’m sitting either.
    There are bishops now clamouring for a Victorian Parliamenty Inquiry promising to co-operate fully, yet won’t give approval to lift the blanket on victims who have signed confidentialities.
    The government countered that submissions were covered by parliamentary priviledge and victims are expected to feel safe, what are they afraid of?
    There is so much emotion involved, something they are adept at utilizing, no one can see through it.
    Take a look at the face of local bishop Peter Connors, in the article in the Ballarat Courier: Catholic Leaders say sorry, and tell me that is the image of one so remorseful, prepared to put on sackcloth and ashs.
    More like someone who is saying Gotcha!

  10. As I read Bishop Accountability, each day I am more sickened at the criminal behaviors that occur frequently and casually by Roman Catholic Priests. Do others feel this way? Where is the accountability?

    1. Mark,
      I too, read Abuse Tracker each day…and yes it is sickening.
      After 10+ years of reading about this monstrous behavior, it still shocking to me.

    2. Yes, I follow Bishop Accountabililty also. It boggles the mind to know that this corruption is commonplace all over the world. How does this not matter or be relevant to a catholic in the United States?

  11. There doesn’t seem to be any accountability- but it looks like change may be on the horizon with these civil suits. This existing structure must be torn down before it can ever be resurrected.

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