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July 23rd, 2015

Firm Files Landmark Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit in Philadelphia (July 2015)

For immediate release, Philadelphia July 23, 2015

The Firm Files Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit in a High Profile Case After 2 Hung Juries in the Criminal Case

Earlier this month, our crime victim team filed a civil lawsuit against Philadelphia priest, Andrew McCormick and the Archdiocese. The civil lawsuit was filed after McCormick’s criminal case resulted in a second hung jury and subsequent mistrial; the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office then declined to retry the case. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of John Doe who, as a 10 year old altar boy, was allegedly sexually abused by McCormick in 1997. The abuse is alleged to have occurred at a church in Bridesburg which neighbors the Frankford and Port Richmond sections of Philadelphia.

Background of This High Profile Sex Abuse Case

Andrew McCormick was ordained in the 1980s and had served at various parishes throughout the Philadelphia area. McCormick was one of the priests investigated by a Grand Jury in Philadelphia in 2004. In 2011, the Philadelphia Archdiocese suspended nearly 30 priests from the ministry, while it investigated reports of inappropriate contact and sexual abuse of children. In late 2011, John Doe filed a police report, alleging that in 1997, McCormick sexually abused him. In 2012, criminal charges were filed against McCormick. The priest was charged with various child sex abuse crimes including involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault and child endangerment.

McCormick’s criminal trial began in March 2014 and ended in a hung jury. Roughly a year later, in March 2015, another Philadelphia jury reached the same conclusion. The jurors again, could not reach a unanimous verdict. The District Attorney’s Office has since indicated that it will not seek to retry McCormick.

Father McCormick remains suspended from the ministry. As of March 2014, the Philadelphia Archdiocese had this to say about McCormick: “He has not and may not administer the sacraments publicly or present himself as a priest in good standing.” (see March 12, 2014 press release, “Statement Regarding The Outcome Of Father Andrew McCormick’s Trial”)

Related: Civil Sex Abuse Lawsuits – Negotiating for Change

The Civil Lawsuit Against McCormick & the Archdiocese

Despite the fact that the criminal case ended in a mistrial, the civil case has a much better chance at succeeding. That’s because the standard of proof in civil lawsuits is much lower than in criminal cases. The civil lawsuit is expected to be scheduled for an initial Case Management Conference when it will be assigned preliminary dates for discovery and trial.