GREENSBURG, Pa. — A man has filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Greensburg, the current bishop and other church leaders alleging that he was sexually abused by a priest over a span of years when as a child.
According to the lawsuit, the man was around 9 or 10 years old and developed a close relationship with Father Joseph Sredzinski, his priest at a local parish. The lawsuit said the boy was impoverished and had been abandoned by his father. Sredzinski allegedly made him feel welcome to spend time at the church as a result.
Around 1991, when the lawsuit said the boy was 11-years-old, Sredzinski took the boy into the rectory and showed him pornography. Sredzinski allegedly took his clothes off, told the boy to remove his clothing and abused him. The lawsuit said the alleged abuse occurred numerous times over the course of six years.
The lawsuit said Sredzinski would often invite other priests to take part in the abuse and the boy was abused on as many as 30 vacations and church-sponsored trips to Washington, D.C. The lawsuit that during the trips, Sredzinski and the boy would share the same hotel room and sleep in the same bed.
On several occasions, the lawsuit said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the former bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, was present in the hotel room when the alleged abuse occurred and observed it happen. The boy said he reported the abuse to the diocese office, but his call was never returned. He said years later that he confronted Wuerl about the abuse but Wuerl denied anything had happened. Wuerl was named over 200 times in the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on child sexual abuse in the church and retired from his position with the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. after the report surfaced.
Court documents said the boy also reported the abuse to a nun and a guidance counselor at the Catholic high school he was attending. He was not taken seriously and was told he must be mentally disturbed.
The grand jury report said the mayor of the town where the parish was located had contacted the diocese in 1991. The mayor said he was concerned about Sredzinski’s inappropriate relationships with multiple local boys. There was an incident in which Sredzinski was found in a parked car with a young boy at a cemetery late at night.
The lawsuit said the diocese and church leaders ignored the boy’s reports of the sexual abuse, enabled Sredzinski to have unrestricted access to children even after concerns were brought forward, failed to supervise trips to Washington, D.C., failed to properly investigate the claims of abuse, failed to have procedures in place for children to file abuse complaints, and failed to remove Sredzinski from having contact with the boy when officials were notified he was “a sexual predator.” The suit also said the diocese and parish knew about the alleged abuse and kept the information from the boy’s parents.
Sredzinski died in 2015, according to the lawsuit.
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