Former altar boys suing Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh over alleged sexual abuse by priest

Former altar boys suing Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh over alleged sexual abuse by priest

PITTSBURGH — Two former altar boys are suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, St. Alphonsus Church and Bishop David Zubik over alleged sexual abuse in the 1980s.

According to a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the boys were ages 11 and 13 when they began attending St. Alphonsus Catholic School, and the abuse, allegedly by Rev. Francis Pucci, began after they became altar boys at the church in McDonald.

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The boys were subjected, as were other young boys, to “almost-daily sexual abuse” for about 3 1/2 years, the lawsuit said.

One of the victims claims Pucci knew he wanted a girlfriend and used that information to “groom” him and “make him feel closer to the priest.” However, as the abuse -- which included inappropriate touching -- continued, Pucci allegedly told him girlfriends aren’t what they’re “cracked up to be.”

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The second victim was chosen help clean the church on the weekends and, according to the lawsuit, abuse would occur during those times.

Pucci allegedly touched the boy inappropriately and would also “reward” him for doing a good job of cleaning by using sacramental oils to give him foot massages. The lawsuit claims Pucci said “only the best altar boys got this treatment.”

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On one occasion, Pucci allegedly took the boy to his room to weigh him. The lawsuit stated the boy was then placed onto Pucci’s bed and his whole body was massaged.

Pucci was named in the 2018 grand jury report on priest sex abuse across six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, including Pittsburgh, according to the lawsuit.

“The report revealed that Rev. Pucci was ‘transferred’ thirteen (13) times in his cut-short, thirty-year (30) career,” the lawsuit said.

Pucci died in 2002.