Did you know Spotlight PA is a nonprofit? Learn more about our nonpartisan journalism »
Skip to main content
Main content

Pa. high court hears pivotal clergy abuse case


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Jordan Wolman
October 21, 2020
Russian hackers, a missing district office, more charters, ballot delays, a cat has COVID, and moon landers in Pittsburgh. Happy Wednesday.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette described as a "potentially precedent-setting case" involving sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and alleged cover-ups.

The case was brought by Renee Rice, an Altoona woman who was abused by the Rev. Charles Bodziak several decades ago. Her suit claims the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese systematically covered up abuse by priests including Bodziak, who was named in a 2016 grand jury report.

Other survivors have sued dioceses using the same legal theory, alleging fraud and conspiracy.

The Context: Four years ago, a grand jury report detailed abuse perpetrated by dozens of priests against hundreds of children in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese alone. And in 2018, another grand jury investigation identified 301 "predator priests" at six other state dioceses. 

Using these reports, survivors and their supporters demanded the legislature create a retroactive window for now-adult victims to sue, since both the criminal and civil statute of limitations for many people had passed. But such a measure was blocked by the top Senate Republican, who claimed it would be unconstitutional

Now, survivors are looking to the courts for relief. Last year, the state Superior Court said Rice's case could move forward, even though the abuse happened decades ago. The state Supreme Court must now decide if Rice acted too late — a decision that could have wide-reaching implications for other clergy abuse victims. 


“I feel like a lot of the chatter about the Postal Service in the last couple months is intentionally designed to erode confidence in a way that’s totally unwarranted.”

–– Al Schmidt, a Republican and one of three commissioners who run Philadelphia elections, urging people to use their mail-in ballots if they requested them, rather than changing their mind and going to the polls
POST IT: Getting some fall vibes from this shot of Cleland Rock in Portersville, Pa. by @rachhbrewwSend us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems, or tag us on Instagram at @spotlightpennsylvania.
RED SCARE: The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday charged six Russian military officials in a widespread hacking operation. The Kremlin-backed forces targeted, among other entities worldwide, Pennsylvania's health-care industry, the Associated Press reports.

ANYONE HOME? Since at least January 2017, Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe has paid more than $15,000 for a district office that does not appear to exist, according to the Pittsburgh Current. A reporter who visited the site said there was no signage or indication of an office.

SAY IT AIN'T SO: TribLive is reporting on more ballot delays in Westmoreland County. The county's commissioners are having internal discussions about going a different route should Midwest Direct, the company hired to print and mail ballots, continue having problems.

BEEP BEEP: A bill that would legalize personal delivery devices — robots that are used to carry packages or food — is closer to reaching Gov. Tom Wolf's desk. PennLive reports that some Democrats are opposed to the measure as the devices would take away human jobs.

SEED MONEY: The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools is looking to use a $30 million federal grant to develop, expand, and replicate charter schools throughout Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the group seeks to build 18 brick-and-mortar schools by 2025, even as charter schools remain a point of sharp contention.

POE MONEY: A handwritten letter in which author Edgar Allan Poe politely pleads for $40 from a Philadelphia editor sold at an online auction this month for $125,125. The letter, however, did not find a home in Pennsylvania.

'MAYOR FOR LIFE': The late Harrisburg Mayor Stephen Reed, once dubbed mayor for life who was later charged with stealing artifacts, will now have his full collection of art and antiques auctioned off. It's quite a list of stuff.

BLAST OFF: Astrobotic, a lunar tech company, has opened its new command center in Pittsburgh. It's on track to send the first commercial lander to the moon.

COVID CAT: A 16-year-old Cumberland County cat is the first in Pennsylvania to be confirmed with the coronavirus. According to the Bucks County Courier Times, the cat lived with multiple people who had contracted the virus. Sadly, the cat had to be euthanized.

WHAT TO READ IF .... You need your ballot! Don't wait. The last thing you want is for your vote to come in too late. The Inquirer has you covered with what you should do if you haven't gotten your mail-in ballot yet.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out the winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Cornucopia

Congrats to our winners: Nina L., Chip K., Craig W., Steve D., Michael S., Bill C., Thomas B., Deb N., Heidi G., Jill A-S., Ann S., Chris M., George S., Tracey C., Brandie K., Craig S., Lynne E., Carol D., Patricia R., Maureen G., Joel S., Chris W., Ron P., Evelyn S., Bruce F., Irene R., and Ann and John.
Like PA Post? Share it with a friend.

Love PA Post? Chip in to support local journalism.

Forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here.
Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

Copyright © Spotlight PA / The Philadelphia Inquirer, All rights reserved.

Spotlight PA
225 Market St., Suite 502A
Harrisburg, PA 17101

You're receiving this email because you subscribed to PA Post, which has combined with Spotlight PA to create Pennsylvania's largest statewide newsroom dedicated to accountability journalism.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.