Woman sues Allentown Diocese over effort to ‘smear’ her over sexual abuse claims

Source: The Morning Call

Of The Morning Call

A woman described as a victim in Pennsylvania’s grand jury report on sexual abuse by clergy has sued the Allentown Diocese over a “smear” campaign by church officials, including Bishop Alfred Schlert, that was described in the statewide report.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Lehigh County Court on behalf of Juliann Bortz of Lower Macungie Township, alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. It says the effort by church officials to gather “irrelevant, unrelated [or] false ‘dirt’ ” on Bortz to discredit her reports of abuse by the Rev. Francis Fromholzer was unknown to her until it was revealed in the grand jury report last month.

“She was distraught when she read the grand jury report and found out what the church had done,” Harrisburg attorney Benjamin Andreozzi said. “In essence, she was revictimized.”

Instead of taking Bortz’s accusation seriously and investigating Fromholzer, the suit says, “the diocese immediately ‘attempted to undermine and discredit Juliann and her family.’ ”

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