New sexual abuse lawsuit filed against Diocese of Scranton


A 30-year-old New Jersey man filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Scranton, alleging Rev. Joseph F. Meighan sexually abused him for more than a decade.

The lawsuit, filed in Lackawanna County Court, alleges Meighan began abusing the man in 1995, when he was 5. The abuse continued until 2002, when Meighan was relieved of his duties. The lawsuit does not identify the victim. According to the suit, Meighan was a frequent guest at the man’s home when he was a child, as well as the homes of his grandmother and great-grandmother. He also served as a spiritual advisor to the man.

The suit is among more than two dozen lawsuits filed in Lackawanna County Court that allege the Diocese knew priests were abusing children. Rather than take steps to protect them, it transferred the priests to other parishes to avoid liability.

In Meighan’s case, the suit cites a 2018 statewide grand jury report on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church that revealed officials first learned Meighan was abusing children in 1970, when four boys at St. Boniface Church in Wilkes-Barre reported he fondled them. He was ordered to undergo treatment, but then returned to service.

In 1990, a mother reported she saw Meighan undressing her son in the rectory at St. Therese’s church in Kingston Twp. He was again sent for treatment and reassigned to first to Holy Family Residence in Scranton, then to the Mercy Center Convent in Dallas. He last served at St. Mary’s Villa Nursing home in Elmhurst Twp.

The lawsuit, which does not name Meighan as a defendant, was filed by Philadelphia attorney Nathaniel Foote, who represents the man along with attorney Adam Horowitz of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and several other attorneys. It seeks damages on two counts of gross negligence and reckless supervision.