By BETH MILLER The News Journal March 17, 2009
A 46-year-old Pennsylvania man filed suit Monday in Delaware Superior Court alleging that he was sexually abused 30 years ago by the Rev. Paul Daleo, then a Capuchin friar.
At the time, Daleo was a resident of the Capuchins’ friary on Silverside Road.
In addition to Daleo, the suit names the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and the Capuchin Franciscan Friars Province of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis, the New Jersey-based religious order of which Daleo was a member.
In the suit, the plaintiff — identified only as John Doe — claims he was sexually abused from 1978 to 1979, when he was 16 and 17 years old. His mother was a long-time diocesan employee who welcomed Daleo into family events, where the priest came into contact with the plaintiff, the suit says.
The suit alleges that the Capuchins and the diocese knew of Daleo’s abusive behavior but did nothing to stop it and allowed him to continue serving as a priest.
“This was a trusted family friend who is ingratiated into the family and an institutional culture that believes in containing scandal rather than keeping children safe,” Doe’s attorney, Thomas P. Conaty IV, said Monday. “We believe the facts will bear that out in trial.”
Wilmington attorney Mark Reardon, who represents the Capuchin order, said Monday’s filing was news to the order.
“Despite the Capuchins’ efforts to reach out directly to all victims of abuse, today’s suit is the first we’re hearing of this sad news of another allegation against Paul Daleo, a former Capuchin,” Reardon said. “This kind of claim is made more difficult to address and resolve when a victim comes forward for the first time by filing an anonymous lawsuit 30 years after the alleged abuse. The Capuchins wish they knew earlier about this latest accusation. Sending a lawyer to the courthouse is rarely the best approach towards peace.”
Diocese spokesman Robert G. Krebs and attorney Jennifer-Kate Aaronson, who represents Daleo, said they had not seen the suit and had no comment on it.
The “Doe” suit is the second claim filed against Daleo. Conaty, of Conaty Curran & Sisk, is the brother of the first plaintiff to file against Daleo — Matthias Conaty, an employee of The News Journal Co. Joining Doe’s legal team is Minnesota attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who has filed thousands of clergy abuse cases nationally.
Daleo was not mentioned in November 2006 when Bishop Michael Saltarelli released the names of 20 priests against whom the diocese acknowledged credible allegations of the sexual abuse of minors. Saltarelli, who retired last year, did not include the names of religious-order priests on his list.
But shortly after that disclosure, Sean Dougherty told The News Journal that he had been abused by Daleo and the Capuchins later confirmed two confidential settlements and substantiated allegations against Daleo.
The suit is filed under the provisions of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victim’s Act, which eliminated the civil statute of limitations in child sexual-abuse cases and opened a two-year period during which cases that otherwise would have been barred by the time limit could be filed. That period ends in July.