The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Church is facing a priest sex abuse scandal of epic proportions. Two more priests have been suspended pending reports of child sex abuse: David Arseneault and James Coveney (retired, 2011). They are accused of molesting children. Some reports date back 20 years.
A criminal investigation is underway. Anyone with information about these two priests should contact the Altoona Police Department at (814) 949-2492 or the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office at (814) 472-1680.
About Father Arseneault and Father Coveney
Father David Arseneault has served the Most Holy Trinity Parish since 2000. It is located in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.
Father James Coveney worked at parishes in Colver and Altoona before retiring in 2011.
These recent cases bring the grand total to 31 Altoona-Johnstown area priests who have faced public allegations of child molestation. In recent years, nearly a dozen priests in Cambria County have been accused of sexually abusing children. At least one priest committed suicide after the allegations surfaced.
Late last year, Martin Cingle was accused of sexually abusing children and was placed on leave. Another priest, Joseph Maurizio, was found guilty of sexually assaulting young boys in Central America via a local charity based in Johnstown. He was also found guilty of possessing child pornography. He will be sentenced next month in federal court.
Civil Legal Rights in Priest Sex Abuse Cases in Pennsylvania
Victims of sex abuse by priests are often misinformed about their legal rights to seek justice through the civil courts. Victims of abuse in church or religious institutions have civil legal rights against the offender as well as the church organization. Claims may be made to obtain financial compensation for pain and suffering, medical bills, etc.
Oftentimes, religious organizations take steps to protect priests, other clergy members and church employees when allegations of sexual abuse surface. In essence, these entities seek to protect themselves over victims. Oftentimes, victims are treated with suspicion or are otherwise assured that their allegations will be handled internally. In some instances, a victim is reassured that the offending priest will not be allowed to work with children. Then, years later, the victim discovers that the priest works at a school or parish.
The Catholic Church has a history of failing to take appropriate steps to ferret out pedophile priests. Take the Philadelphia Archdiocese scandal, for example. Dozens of priests dating back decades were shielded and moved from parish to parish where they claimed additional victims. It appears that the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese has engaged in the same pattern.
Abused by a Priest in Pennsylvania? Get Legal Help
Firm founder Brian Kent is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor who now represents victims of priest abuse in civil lawsuits. Please call Mr. Kent about a Pennsylvania or New Jersey priest abuse case. Free consultations.
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