APNewsBreak: Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh sued over alleged clergy abuse victim’s suicide

By Joe Mandak, AP
Thursday, July 29, 2010

APNewsBreak: Pa. diocese sued in accuser’s suicide

PITTSBURGH — The estate of a man allegedly abused by a priest in the 1980s is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, alleging he committed suicide this year after the diocese stopped paying for his mental health treatments following two other suicide attempts.

Michael Unglo, 39, formerly of Etna in suburban Pittsburgh, committed suicide in May at a facility in Stockbridge, Mass., according to a copy of the lawsuit obtained by The Associated Press. He alleged he was molested in the early 1980s while an altar boy, by a priest who was convicted of molesting another boy and later resigned.

“The mental health professionals who treated (Unglo) connected his problem directly to the sexual abuse trauma he suffered as a child,” attorney Alan Perer said Thursday in a statement. “Even before Michael was getting treatment he had already tried to commit suicide. It was obvious he was in trouble. It was obvious he needed help. This was not the point when the diocese should have decided to cut him off.”

The lawsuit alleges negligence by the diocese and Bishop David Zubik and seeks $50,000 in damages for factors including Unglo’s pain and suffering, his medical expenses, his future lost income and his family’s loss of his companionship.

A diocesan spokesman said he planned to respond to the lawsuit after reviewing a copy provided by the AP. The Associated Press could not immediately locate the former priest, Richard Dorsch, for comment. Calls to two Pennsylvania numbers listing that name were not answered, and a third was disconnected.

Unglo’s family has scheduled a news conference in Pittsburgh Thursday.

According to the lawsuit and electronic court documents examined by The Associated Press, Dorsch was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and one count of corruption of minors in 1995 for molesting another boy.

News accounts at the time said Dorsch resigned from the priesthood in 1996, while Thursday’s lawsuit contends he was defrocked.

Dorsch was sentenced to 11 to 23 months in jail after molesting a 13-year-old boy he had invited to North Park near Pittsburgh for a day of swimming and golfing, court records show.

Thursday’s lawsuit was filed by Samuel Unglo, the alleged victim’s brother and administrator of his estate.

It alleges Unglo was molested, beginning at age 10, from 1982 to 1982 while he was a student and altar boy at All Saints Church and school in Etna, a tiny suburb east of Pittsburgh where Unglo grew up.

Unglo later graduated from a Catholic high school and worked in advertising in New York, where he tried to commit suicide in June 2008 “as a result of the effects of the extreme sexual abuse that had been perpetrated on him,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit contends the Pittsburgh diocese began paying for his counseling and treatment in July 2008. The suit claims Bishop Zubik met with Unglo’s brothers that December and committed to “do whatever it takes to right the wrong that was done to Michael R. Unglos by one of the church’s own.”

The diocese paid to treat Unglo at two New York City hospitals, as well as outpatient treatments. Unglo again tried to commit suicide in June 2009, the lawsuit said. The diocese continued to pay for Unglo’s treatment in New York, at another center in Baltimore, and finally at Austen Riggs in Stockbridge, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit contends the diocese made a final payment of $75,000 to Unglo in March, saying no further payment for his treatment would be forthcoming.

In May, Unglo committed suicide at Austen Riggs, where he had been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder related to the abuse as a result of that decision, the lawsuit said.

The $25,000 sought for each negligence allegation is the minimum necessary to bring the lawsuit in Common Pleas Court.

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