Local diocese named in two new lawsuits

Jesuit seminarian accused of abuse decades ago

The Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese is among the defendants in two new lawsuits filed in State College stemming from the alleged abuse of two boys by a Jesuit seminarian decades ago.

Attorney Richard Serbin in a release said, “The lawsuits against the Jesuit Order, the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and their leaders is for institutional fraud and conspiracy to cover-up their complicity in the crimes against children.”

The abuse by seminarian Leonard Riforgiato occurred at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in State College between 1968-71. After being in State College, Riforgiato spent 27 years as an assistant professor at Penn State Shenango Valley.

The Democrat and Chronicle of Rochester, N.Y., said Riforgiato admitted to abusing minors between 1964-66 while he taught history and religion at McQuaid High School, where he served prior to being transferred to Pennsylvania.

“When Father Riforgiato admitted no later than 1969 to his Jesuit superiors that he had sexually molested children at McQuaid High School in Rochester, New York, they should have turned him in to the police,” Serbin said in a statement. “Instead, they provided him with a fresh hunting ground in Pennsylvania, which proved tragic for my clients.”

One of the two assaulted in State College while teen­agers committed suicide in 1992 at the age of 32. His actions were related to the abuse. The other victim in the lawsuits is now 65.