A former St. Bernard elementary school student filed a lawsuit Thursday alleging he was sexually abused by a math teacher he sought out for tutoring.
The alleged victim, now an adult, called the memories “too painful to relive” in the lawsuit filed by Downtown attorney Robert Peirce III.
The lawsuit does not say when the assaults took place. It only indicates that the alleged victim was enrolled in the Mt. Lebanon school at the time.
It does not name the teacher involved.
According to the lawsuit, the boy began struggling in math and requested help from the math teacher, identified only as John Doe.
The teacher, according to the lawsuit, “used the guise of tutoring … to lure him into an empty, unsupervised classroom to molest and sexually assault him.”
A spokesman for the Diocese of Pittsburgh declined comment, citing the ongoing litigation.
The alleged victim said in the lawsuit that he was sexually assaulted at least five times, but could not recall the exact number of times.
In high school, the boy “turned to drugs and alcohol in an attempt to numb his pain and shame.” In December 2010, he sought the services of a therapist for behavioral issues, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.
He told his his parents about the alleged assaults in December 2017, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit accuses the teacher of battery and negligence and said St. Bernard School and the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh also were negligent. The alleged victim is seeking an unspecified amount of money for his medical and therapy costs, future therapy and treatment costs and damages for past and future pain and suffering.
Peirce said in a statement that the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program set up by the diocese to handle sexual abuse claims will not cover this specific instance of abuse because it allegedly happened at the hands of a teacher. He cited language in the program that says “individuals who allege sexual abuse as a minor by a member of a religious order or lay teachers and employees … are not eligible to participate in the program.”
Peirce called it unfair that the program covers only those who were sexually abused by priests and does not extend to minors who were abused by other diocesan employees.
“If the goal of the IRCP is to recognize past harm and prevent future abuse, then it is failing every victim who does not fall into their narrow category of abuse survivors,” he said.