Man claims Diocese of Harrisburg covered up sex abuse by a teacher in lawsuit

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A lawsuit is filed against the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg on allegations of conspiracy and fraud. The plaintiff alleges he was raped and assaulted by a teacher in the Diocese in the 70's.

"You lose faith," said Patrick Duggan recalling the years of his alleged abuse.

Duggan says he was raped and assaulted by Ronald Stewart, a St. Francis of Assisi history teacher in the Diocese of Harrisburg in the 70's.

"When you're abused within the church, the place you're sent to be protected. The people you believe to be your protectors and your guardians of your faith. When you're abused there," said Duggan. "It changes you."

The lawsuit filed against the Diocese cites conspiracy and fraud. It goes on to say beginning in 1974, Stewart would give Duggan and other male students marijuana, quaaludes, and alcohol. Once intoxicated, Stewart would rape Duggan.

The Diocese of Harrisburg says, they reported Stewart to law enforcement in 1993 after the only known allegation against him was first reported to the Diocese.

Like many child sex abuse survivors, the average age they speak out about their abuse if 52-years-old. Duggan, only recently started speaking publicly about his alleged abuse. He hopes, if nothing else, this lawsuit will urge lawmakers at the State Capitol to pass Statute of Limitations reform, which has stalled in the General Assembly.

"When you're out of your chambers, I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to imagine those abused are your sons, your daughters, your grandsons, your granddaughters," said Duggan. "You also have to quite worrying about the reputation of the church."

Duggan says Stewart was not asked back to teach in the 1974-1975 school year but it's unclear why that decision was made. The Diocese says they do not have any claims of allegations of abuse from Stewart in the 1975 timeframe.

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