Lawsuit Alleges Abuse by Fr. Scott Asalone and Reveals Religious Order Coerced Survivor into Silence
(Richmond, Virginia) – Sexual abuse survivor and former D.C. Council Member David Grosso, filed a lawsuit under the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill against the Capuchins-Province of the Sacred Stigmata of St. Francis, seeking relief from a gag order he was coerced into signing in 1994. The lawsuit also alleges Fr. Scott Asalone, O.F.M. Cap., sexually abused Grosso as a child from approximately 1984 to 1987.
Grosso’s lawsuit describes a meeting he had with then Provincial Minister and leader of the Capuchin order, Fr. John LoSasso, O.F.M. Cap., where LoSasso used intimidation and fear to coerce Grosso into signing a confidentiality agreement or gag order. This practice employed by the religious order’s leadership was a common tactic used by Catholic officials to keep survivors quiet and protect sexual predators.
“We demand that the Capuchins immediately release David Grosso from the gag order,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “It’s vitally important for survivors to have the ability to use their voices, and gag orders are just another way for institutions to silence survivors.”
Statement from David Grosso
For nearly 30 years the Capuchin Friars have tried to silence and prevent me from talking about the abuse I suffered at the hands of one of their priests, Scott Asalone, when I was child. Because they would not provide me with counseling without me signing the agreement, I felt coerced into the signing of this unethical and one-sided confidentiality agreement.
Today, I am asking Judge Costello to recognize the on-going pain that I feel after being silenced and declare that this confidentiality agreement is against public policy. By striking down this agreement, and all others like it, the Court can bring justice to me and other victims and protect children from sexual predators like Scott Asalone well into the future.
These coercive, one-sided victim silencing tools are no longer supported by the State of New Jersey or the Catholic church and should be abolished altogether. Additionally, in every case of sexual assault and in whatever form the silencing agreements take, the court should declare all such agreements invalid and no longer effective.
“There are so many survivors who feel scared to share their experience because they are forced to sign a confidentiality agreement,” said attorney Rita Gribko. “Every religious order and diocese needs to do the right thing and release all survivors from gag orders.”
Survivors of child and adult sexual abuse in New Jersey have limited time to take legal action. All claims under the New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill must be filed by November 30, 2021.