New lawsuit claims Ellwood priest molested siblings for years

Catholic Diocese Pittsburgh Lawsuit

Title: New lawsuit claims Ellwood priest molested siblings for years
Author: Chrissy Suttles
Publisher: The Times
Date: 12AUG2020

ELLWOOD CITY — A Pennsylvania man is suing the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh decades after he says he and his sister were sexually assaulted by a priest in Lawrence County.

The complaint filed in Allegheny County Court by Altoona-based attorney Richard Serbin claims William Schneider, 65, of Cumberland County, was 8 years old when the Rev. James Somma’s sexual abuse began at the former Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, now Holy Redeemer.

The abuse reportedly continued for two or three years in the 1960s. Schneider was forced to expose himself and perform sexual acts on himself in the presence of Somma, who died in 2004, the lawsuit claims.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh was aware of Somma’s “deviant sexual acts and continued to allow him to remain in the priesthood without consequence,” Schneider’s lawyer said, adding that Somma groomed the siblings and their parents over time, often taking the youngsters out for treats and purchasing expensive gifts their family could not afford.

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