The civil suits were submitted Tuesday by a total of nine plaintiffs. Defendants include the Archdiocese, current and former leaders and the priests accused of abuse.
Archdiocese spokesperson Kenneth Gavin said in a statement Tuesday that the Archdiocese has not yet received copies of the suits but said that “lawsuits are not the best mechanism to promote healing in the context of the very private and difficult circumstances of sexual abuse.”
Gavin said the Archdiocese will “work to assure all victims of sexual abuse receive appropriate assistance.”
The announcement comes on the heels of a new appeal filed in the case of Monsignor William Lynn, the first Catholic official to be convicted of covering up allegations of sex abuse.
Lynn’s attorneys this week filed a new motion contending that a former priest who pleaded guilty to sex abuse earlier this year lied.
Edward Avery was set to be tried alongside Lynn and co-defendant James Brennan in spring’s landmark abuse case but, days before its start, he pleaded guilty. He is serving a two-and-a-half to five-year sentence.
Avery’s guilty plea included a stipulation that he implicate Lynn as a conspirator.
A jury later found Lynn guilty of child endangerment for covering up the abuse allegations against Avery, and he is awaiting his sentence.
In arguing that he be released on bail this week, Lynn’s attorneys contended in court papers that Avery passed a polygraph test in which he said he did not abuse his accuser and that he only took the plea deal to receive a lesser sentence.
The bail motion is currently before the Pennsylvania Superior Court, which previously denied Lynn bail, as did a Court of Common Pleas judge.
Also this week, the Archdiocese suspended a priest it had recently cleared of misconduct.
The Rev. Michael Chapman, 56, was placed on administrative leave last weekend as an internal investigation began into a new allegation of sexual abuse. Archbishop Charles Chaput in the spring cleared him of a previous allegation.
When the new allegations were made in May, the Archdiocese said it immediately reported them to law enforcement and delayed the priest’s return to his post as pastor of Ascension of Our Lord in Northeast Philadelphia.
The abuse allegedly took place 30 years ago.