Archdiocese of Philadelphia accused of covering up ‘sexual abuse’ by college chaplain – LifeSite

PHILADELPHIA (LifeSiteNews) — A young woman is alleging in court that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia spent years covering up sexual abuse committed by a former priest who then abused her.

In a lawsuit filed April 18, the plaintiff “Jane Doe” argues that Kevin Barry McGoldrick sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Aquinas College in the Diocese of Nashville in 2017. Kevin McGoldrick was serving at the college as chaplain, and Doe alleges that he befriended, groomed, and eventually sexually assaulted her during the course of her studies. 

McGoldrick, ordained a priest in 2003 for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, has since sought voluntary laicization. It was granted in April 2021.  

Doe extensively argues that the Archdiocese lied about McGoldrick’s past when she inquired about him in light of the alleged abuse she received and about the fact that the Archdiocese had investigated McGoldrick for alleged assault and rape.

Alleged abuse at Aquinas College

Jane Doe attended Aquinas College in the Diocese of Nashville from 2014 to 2018, a school run by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia.

Her suit argues that McGoldrick used his position as college chaplain and as her spiritual director to groom her over a number of years. He was a very popular figure amongst students and staff at Aquinas College, something which she states gave her a false sense of security about him. 

McGoldrick reportedly made a regular habit of inviting her, and other female students, over to his residence for meals and alcoholic drinks. On one occasion in August 2017, McGoldrick allegedly plied Doe with alcohol once they were alone, and spoke to her about how “lonely the priesthood was” and how he “longed to be known and loved.” 

After giving the young woman a considerable amount to drink, McGoldrick then sexually assaulted her, Doe said. She believes that the assault continued after the alcohol robbed her of consciousness.

Writing for the Catholic Herald in 2020 under a pseudonym, Doe described the alleged abuse in harrowing detail. “Every time I woke up I hoped I was in a nightmare and the chaplain of my college wasn’t on top of me, touching me in ways I had never let anyone touch me. I was wrong each time,” she wrote.

I was groomed and manipulated by a sexual predator who weaponized his priesthood. He normalized hanging out with him like we were his friends, drinking with him, and spending time in his rectory. His authority as a priest made these seemingly little problems impossible for us to question and his status on my campus made it nearly impossible for me to tell anyone.

Further, more explicit details, were provided in her current suit against the Archdiocese.

The morning after the event – the suit argues – he apologized, saying his life was “just so hard,” asked for her silence on the matter, and said that it was because of her attractiveness that he had acted in such a manner.

Doe kept silent about the alleged event while still at Aquinas College and states that she suffered from guilt and suicidal feelings, along with PTSD, shock, emotional distress, embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, and humiliation. 

After graduating in 2018, she then issued a formal complaint about the incident to the Diocese of Nashville in March 2019, and then to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia some months later when she had not received a response from the Diocese of Nashville. 

McGoldrick meantime left Aquinas College upon completion of his contract in the summer of 2017 and went to Overbook School/St. Cecilia Academy in Nashville Diocese.

Doe subsequently settled outside of court with the Diocese of Nashville in May 2020 for $65,000. The suit did not admit any liability on the diocese’s part – since it is not responsible for the running of the college – but “was primarily intended to help cover counseling and related expenses, and her attorney costs, enabling her to move on with her new career opportunity.”

READ: Renowned Catholic philosopher warns Pope Francis is ‘destroying the foundations of faith in morals’

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The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) has described assisted suicide as sometimes being the “greatest common good concretely possible” contrary to the Catholic Church’s strenuous condemnation of the practice.

This betrayal of the Catholic faith by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is not for the first time, with the PAV repeatedly causing scandal under his watch by:

  • recently appointing a notorious pro-abortion atheist to the organization
  • claiming contraception and artificial insemination are sometimes acceptable
  • insisting that priests could accompany people through assisted-suicide, and
  • that Italy’s pro-abortion law is a “pillar” of the country’s social life.

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“Personally, I would not practice suicide assistance,” Archbishop Paglia told an Italian journalism conference last week, “but I understand that legal mediation may be the greatest common good concretely possible under the conditions we find ourselves in.”

Accepting an anti-life Italian court ruling that specified when assisted-suicide is permitted, the archbishop claimed “it is not to be ruled out that in our society a legal mediation is feasible that would allow assistance to suicide under the conditions specified by Constitutional Court Sentence 242/2019…”

From the outset of his presentation in Perugia, Paglia also undermined the authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, stating: “First of all, I would like to clarify that the Catholic Church is not that it has a ready-made, prepackaged package of truths, as if it were a dispenser of truth pills.” 

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The PAV issued a statement on Monday trying to clarify the archbishop’s remarks, insisting that Paglia “reiterates his ‘no’ towards euthanasia and assisted suicide, in full adherence to the Magisterium”.

However, far from denouncing Paglia’s words, the PAV unsurprisingly supported its president. Referencing the Italian court ruling which partially decriminalized euthanasia by outlining exceptions to its illegality, the PAV stated it was in the context of this ruling that Paglia had made his comments.

In this precise and specific context, Msgr. Paglia explained that in his opinion a ‘legal mediation’ (certainly not a moral one) in the direction indicated by the Sentence is possible, maintaining the crime and the conditions under which it is decriminalized, as the same Constitutional Court has asked Parliament to legislate. 

The PAV’s fudging of the issue was met with consternation from several Catholic commentators, with liturgist Matthew Hazell, who had highlighted Paglia’s original comments, asking “How hard is it for the @PontAcadLife to just say ‘sorry’ for scandalising the faithful? Indeed, how hard is it to actually adhere to the teaching of the Church on life issues? Are you so incapable of reading the signs of the times & interpreting them in the light of the Gospel?”

SIGN: Abp. Paglia’s presidency of the Pontifical Academy for Life is untenable

It’s vital that the Church and PAV push back against the culture of death, rather than trying to accommodate it and accept a world that where the vulnerable are helped to kill themselves.

Be part of pushing back against the tide and making it clear that there is no room for confusion or betrayal when it comes to the sanctity of human life and the infallibilty of Catholic teaching on the matter. 



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Archdiocesan cover up?

McGoldrick was not incarnated into the Nashville Diocese, but had simply been given faculties to provide the sacraments there, as he had been chosen by the Dominican Sisters who ran the college as the chaplain. He had served in his home diocese from 2003 – 2013, at which point he was transferred to Aquinas College.

In the context of her 2019 complaints, Doe “relentlessly inquired” – states the current suit – with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia about whether McGoldrick had sexually abused other women. However, her lawyers state that the Archdiocese “continuously deceived” Doe about McGoldrick’s history and did not provide an answer.

Doe’s current suit states that the Archdiocese told her in 2020 that they were not looking for any other victims of McGoldrick’s, and reportedly continued to refuse to answer her questions about any other potential victims. The Archdiocese “denied McGoldrick’s involvement with other victims and continuously deceived” Doe. 

While McGoldrick was allowed to continue in public ministry in 2019, the Archdiocese reportedly “continuously misled and lied” to Doe during her efforts to find out about potential victims.

Former Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput found Doe’s allegations credible. In January 2020, he removed McGoldrick’s faculties and restricted him from public ministry. The priest was then voluntarily laicized in spring 2021.

It was only in September 2022, through reading an article about McGoldrick’s abuse of two other victims, that Doe learned he had already been investigated by the Archdiocese and that these details had been hidden from her. Her suit against the Archdiocese now provides details of these alleged instances of sexual abuse and of rape.

These events dated back respectively to 2007 and 2012 and, for one victim, continued “for years.” The Archdiocese investigated the allegations made by both victims against McGoldrick but did not reveal the results. This, notes the suit, was known by the Archdiocese before McGoldrick was assigned to Aquinas College.

READ: Catholic school board asks students if they identify as ‘trans’ or ‘two-spirited’ in recent survey

The current suit now argues the Archdiocese “aided and covered-up the mass sexual abuse of McGoldrick.”

Despite the Archdiocese’s denials to Doe regarding McGoldrick’s behavior, the suit states that he was “re-assigned at least seven times and subject to at least two leaves of absence,” even prior to being assigned to Aquinas College.

The suit specifically argues that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia assigned McGoldrick to the Diocese of Nashville knowing “that McGoldrick was a pedophile, molester, and/or sexual predator who posed a danger to young females….[and] knowing, and/or having reason to know, that he posed a risk of physical harm to adults, children, parishioners, and others left in his custody.”

Jane Doe is now seeking $50,000 from the Archdiocese. She is also seeking “in excess” of $50,000 from McGoldrick for charges of assault and battery.

LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for comment but was told that the “Archdiocese would not comment on pending litigation.”