March 31, 2005

Camden Diocese sued on sex-abuse allegation

Philadelphia Inquirer

By Melanie Burney
Inquirer Staff Writer

A former altar boy says he was sexually abused by three former priests in Cumberland County, but repressed the childhood memories for years.

In a civil suit filed yesterday in state Superior Court in Camden, Darren K. Leibow of Millville also alleges that top church officials, living and dead, conspired to cover up the abuse.

The lawsuit alleges the abuse occurred between 1986 and 1991 and involved priests then assigned to St. Michael's Church in Cedarville. Two have died, and the third was defrocked.

At the time, Leibow, now 28, was head altar boy at Our Lady of Lakes in Laurel Lake, a mission chapel of St. Michael's.

The priests gave Leibow gifts, such as money, baseball cards and a cross, and used threats and intimidation to keep him from disclosing the abuse, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit mirrors a 1994 case brought by 23 men and women who said priests in the Camden Diocese had sexually abused them. Although a judge dismissed the complaints because the statute of limitations had expired, the diocese in 2003 agreed to pay the plaintiffs $880,000.

Posted by kshaw at March 31, 2005 06:43 AM