Lawsuit accuses Archdiocese of Philadelphia of moving sexually abusive priest

By Joe Holden

More than 20 years after the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the United States, a newly filed lawsuit reveals more allegations of a cover-up.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is accused in the suit of moving a priest with an alleged troubling track record.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia faces renewed allegations Wednesday that church leaders quietly transferred a suspected sexually abusive priest from assignment to assignment between 2003 and 2020.

The church and the priest are named in a five-count lawsuit filed in the Court of Common Pleas on claims of negligence and recklessness based on the alleged failure to properly supervise priests, investigate allegations against them and protect its parishioners from them, often by simply moving the priests to other dioceses.

In the complaint Jane Doe, whose identity we are concealing, alleges she was sexually abused by 48-year-old Father Kevin McGoldrick after the Archdiocese, under the leadership of then-Archbishop Charles Chaput, transferred him to her college in Nashville, Tennessee.

Archbishop Charles Chaput during service. 

“I would say that my entire senior year was stolen from me,” Jane Doe said. “I spent that year crippled with anxiety. I was in constant fear of someone finding out, someone finding out and blaming me.”

Jane Doe has already settled a lawsuit with the Diocese of Nashville — but says late last year — she was shocked to learn McGoldrick was previously accused of abusing a woman in Philadelphia — years before he allegedly assaulted her, according to the lawsuit.

Attorney Stu Ryan, of the law firm Laffey, Bucci and Kent, represents Jane Doe.

“Ultimately it was only through public reporting that our client learned that in fact not only were there other victims, but that the Archdiocese knew about these other victims before this priest was ever sent to Nashville and she should have never been exposed to him in the first place,” Ryan said.

McGoldrick still lives in Nashville, according to the suit.

Over the past 24 hours, CBS Philadelphia reached out to several email addresses believed to be his, but he has not responded.

The lawsuit accuses him of civil assault and battery.

He hasn’t been charged in connection to those allegations, which have not yet been proven in court.

The Archdiocese hasn’t responded to questions on what his official status is as a member of the clergy.

Joe Holden: “What should have happened to this priest in 2013 or 2007, or 8 or 9?”

Ryan: “Well, certainly action should have been taken long before he was sent to Nashville. He never should have been sent to Nashville. He should have never had a letter that is standard practice when someone is sent to a different diocese or archdiocese vouching for him as a safe person to be around.”

Attorney Stu Ryan, of the law firm Laffey, Bucci and Kent, represents Jane Doe.

Jane Doe says she was doing better until learning from news reports about other women the lawsuit claims came forward to report inappropriate conduct.

“The news that what happened to me could have so easily been avoided has put me back into a really difficult place,” Jane Doe said.

Father McGoldrick had numerous assignments in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, according to the lawsuit, including South Philadelphia, Fishtown and at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul when he was a minister at Roman Catholic High School.

As far as the suit, the Archdiocese says it does not comment on pending litigation.

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