by Susan Matthews
Abused by a priest as a kid, Thomas (not his real name) spent too much of his adult life embroiled in a grand jury investigation. The grueling emotional process cut fresh wounds into his already scarred psyche. Suicide attempts and subsequent hospitalization made it clear that self preservation meant stepping away from it all. It was the right decision for him and his family. Thomas is working, married and surviving.
But now, his hard-won and tenuous stability is threatened. Lawyers prosecuting a civil case against the Philadelphia archdiocese on behalf of another victim asked him to testify. Thomas explained why he couldn’t – how it might cost him his life. They responded with a subpoena.
Cornered and forced to do something horrific as child, Thomas is once again cornered and being forced to do something terrifying as an adult. The subpoena compels him to appear in court or he’ll be held in contempt and fined. Yet, the price he’ll pay for testifying is far worse.
Civil and criminal cases have been the best means of gaining public awareness, preventing abuse and offering an opportunity for justice. But the end does not justify the means when a survivor is re-victimized.
What options does Thomas have in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas? Are there any lawyers willing to offer pro bono advice on fighting the subpoena?
UPDATE: A lawyer has reached out and is helping Thomas. Thank you for the outpouring of support and advice. Thomas and his family are deeply appreciative for all of you.