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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The first lawsuit is being filed against the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese since the release of the grand jury report on accusations of child sex abuse against priests.

The lawsuit alleges that Fr. Jack Hoehl, the former headmaster of Quigley High School, molested James Saitta over he course of five years, from the time he was 12 until he was 17, at the rectory.

Fr. Jack Hoehl (Photo Credit: KDKA)

But like a dozen former students who told KDKA years ago that Hoehl had sexually assaulted them, years would pass before they could admit to themselves or others that it had had a devastating impact on their lives.

“Trouble with our marriages, trouble with alcohol, drug abuse, attempted suicides,” said one of the victims.

But under the law, they were too late to sue Hoehl or the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese because of the statute of limitations had run its course.

Attorney Alan Perer says that statute should be voided, because the Diocese knew that Hoehl and others were predators but kept it quiet.

“The the church had information about these pedophile priest and covered up and had a conspiracy of silence,” Perer said.

According to the grand jury report, Hoehl was first accused in 1986, sent to rehab, and then reassigned as a chaplain at Shadyside Hospital. He resigned in 1988 after being told he was being removed from ministry.

But the accusations were never made public and law enforcement was never notified. KDKA’s Andy Sheehan found him in 2007 working as a counselor in Weirton, but after the report, West Virginia revoked his license.

Sheehan: “He shouldn’t have been in West Virginia as a counselor.”
Perer: “He shouldn’t have been with children. He should have been in jail.”

Perer says he will be fighting the statue in court, but supports a push in the legislature to open up a two-year window for victims to sue.

“These people that have been victimized in the time-frame we’re talking about, and have had their lives ruined, they need justice and they need a window,” he said.