The legal fight to protect victimized seminarians continues.
The attorney for former North American College seminarian Anthony Gorgia has filed an appeal after a New York judge dismissed a sexual predation cover-up complaint against Cdl. Timothy Dolan and NAC.
Notably, while the judge stated there were problematic procedural technicalities and jurisdictional issues with the case, she did not dismiss the veracity of the allegations against Dolan or the sexual misconduct allegations against outgoing NAC rector Fr. Peter Harman and vice rector Fr. Adam Park (who resigned).
The accusations were bolstered by a former FBI special agent who, after reviewing the evidence, affirmed in sworn testimony that he found the allegations "entirely credible."
Multiple NAC seminarians and the FBI agents have detailed Harman and Park's alleged sexual antics — as well as retaliatory tactics used to hide clerics' misconduct and punish whistleblowers. The lawsuit also brought to light a three-year paper trail showing Dolan, NAC seminary officials and the Vatican refusing to investigate.
Cardinal Dolan asked the New York judge to order the plaintiff to pay the cardinal's legal fees — in an apparent attempt to punish Gorgia. The judge denied the demand, ruling that Dolan had no basis to punish the plaintiff for his "good faith" lawsuit.
In court filings, Gorgia's attorney called Dolan's request an attempt to "terrorize" the victim, saying Dolan should be the subject of sanctions for "frivolous, misleading and false presentations" made under oath in legal documents. According to the lawsuit, Dolan has a long record of revictimizing or punishing whistleblowers who expose his attempts to cover up predatory behavior, a record that spans his career in St. Louis, Milwaukee and New York.
Owing to strong legal precedent, Gorgia's attorney is confident the case will move forward on appeal. Court filings have established that New York Courts do, in fact, have jurisdiction over the alleged illegal activities by Cdl. Dolan and the New York archdiocese — as well as the NAC, which has had extensive business dealings in the state. The defendants' alleged actions certainly would have caused significant harm within New York.
According to victim advocates, accused clerics often make motions to dismiss — at the victim's expense — rather than answering allegations directly. If a lawsuit is not dismissed, the process of discovery allows investigation into evidence held by the defendant and also allows the defendant to be questioned under penalty of perjury.
The NAC (through its pro-LGBTQ+ law firm) and Dolan (through his army of archdiocesan lawyers) sought to block discovery against them via their motions to dismiss. Unless Gorgia's attorney succeeds in his appeal, the Catholic faithful will lack full knowledge of Dolan and the NAC's misdoings.
To date, the suit has brought the Church's web of complicit clerics close to the point of no return. The departures of the two accused NAC priests, Harman and Park, were announced within weeks of the legal filings. The NAC's board of governors is now scrambling to appoint a rector equally skilled at covering up scandal.
Over 30 U.S. and Vatican bishops, among whom are NAC board of governors members, stand accused of having received and covered up the allegations against Harman and Park — a fact that has the potential to end their careers. Bishop-endorsed media outlets, such as Catholic News Service and Catholic News Agency, have been exposed for their apparent loyalty to accused clerics.
Unforgettably, CNA Vatican correspondent Hannah Brockhaus was named in an ethics violation report for having contacted the judge reviewing sexual accusations against Brockhaus' own bishop, Abp. George Lucas of Omaha.
Victims' advocates say that if Dolan and the NAC are allowed to escape legal accountability, the implications will be devastating for seminarians who want to pursue their vocations without becoming prey. A 250-page report published in September 2021 revealed that the alleged sexual predation and cover-up at the NAC fit the pattern of misconduct recently reported in over 40 seminaries and dioceses.
Catholics are rightly angered by the loss of good vocations at the hands of vindictive leaders. The faithful should do what they can to protect those who offer their lives to Holy Mother Church. They can donate to the Save Our Seminarians Fund to aid in seeing the lawsuit against Dolan and the NAC successfully appealed — and the deeds of accused prelates seminaries unveiled.