Were you or a loved one sexually abused by Father John P. Schmeer, a former science teacher and guidance counselor in the Philadelphia area? Our experienced Pennsylvania sexual abuse attorneys can help. You have legal options available to you.
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In 2018, a Pennsylvania Grand Jury released a report on sexual abuse committed by Catholic clergy. This report was more than 800 pages long and named more than 300 priests as the abusers of over 1,000 children and young adults, shocking the nation with its horrific detail.
This report has resulted in significant changes to law and has even inspired the Vatican to change some of its policies. It has also inspired other survivors to step forward, name their abuser, and take legal action.
Father John P. Schmeer Accused Of Sexually Assaulting His Former Students
Reverend John P. Schmeer was ordained in 1964 and over his career served as a pastor at several churches. In addition to this, he was a teacher and guidance counselor at several high schools in the Philadelphia area, a position that allowed him to come into contact with thousands of teenage children.
In 2004, after a sexual assault lawsuit was filed naming him as the abuser of the plaintiff, Schmeer was placed on leave and the following year, he was allowed to retire to a supervised life of penance and prayer. However, this hasn't stopped the allegations against him from becoming public and others have come forward, also sharing their stories of abuse at his hands.
Decades After Abuse, Survivor Steps Forward
One of the plaintiffs, a man who is now in his 60's, shared details about the abuse he survived in his lawsuit. He alleges that Schmeer took him under his wing as a freshman in high school, offering him special guidance counseling sessions. At first, nothing unusual happened during the sessions but soon, Schmeer began to ask the student if he masturbated. While questioning him about masturbation, the priest fondled the students genitals for extended periods of time.
Unsure of how to make the abuse stop and scared, the student didn't tell anyone. The abuse then escalated.
One day at a seminary pool, the priest pulled the boy into his lap, pulled down his pants, and grabbed his genitals. He then inserted a finger into the anus of the child, who recalls crying during the entire attack. The priest rubbed his own erection against the child and to make matters even worse, a second priest, Father Ernest Durante, was in the pool and watched, doing nothing to stop Schmeer.
The victim also found that he was known as Schmeer's "boy" and was sexually assaulted by other students as a result.
By his sophomore year he was suicidal and convinced his mother, who still knew nothing of the abuse, to switch schools. He spent the next two decades of his life in therapy.
When he finally felt strong enough, at age 49, he reported the abuse to the Vatican. Instead of taking serious action, they instead investigated the victim and announced that his allegations were not credible. Their reaction to his abuse and the discovery that this wasn't the first time Schmeer had been accused of sexual assault was infuriating. He then decided to file a sexual assault lawsuit against his abuser, the school, and the church.
Sexual Assault Lawsuits Continue To Be Filed Against Father Schmeer And The Catholic Church
Since the first lawsuit was filed, many other survivors have made the decision to take legal action. This is hardly surprising since one of the survivors said that he knew of at least 15 - 16 other boys who had been abused by the priest.
Filing a sexual assault lawsuit offers many benefits to survivors. First, compensation can be obtained. This compensation won't change the past, however, it will help to pay for the care that is needed for survivors to build a brighter and happier future. Additionally, it helps to bring abusers, and those who allowed the abuse to continue, to justice.
The grand jury report made it clear that the Catholic Church has long overlooked sexual assault by the clergy. By standing united and pursuing justice, a message can be sent that this behavior is unacceptable and there will be consequences for failing to protect the innocent.
The experienced attorneys at Abuse Guardian are representing one of the survivors of Father Schmeer's abuse and we encourage others to come forward. We want you to know that we believe you and we will support you. We offer free consultations during which we will cover all of your legal options.
You can make the decision to file anonymously, preserving your identity. Our lawyers are ready to guide you through this process, step by step. Call now to learn more.