Woman sues diocese, alleges 'smear' effort over abuse claims

Written by The Associated Press | Sep 13, 2018 12:20 PM
Monsignor Francis Schoenauer.jpg

Monsignor Francis Schoenauer reads a letter from Allentown Bishop Alfred Schlert during Sunday mass at the Cathedral Church of St. Catharine of Siena in Allentown, Pa. (Natalie Piserchio for WHYY)

(Allentown) -- A woman described as a victim in Pennsylvania's grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown over what she's calling a "smear" campaign by church officials.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday on behalf of Juliann Bortz, alleges church officials tried to dig up dirt on her to discredit her allegations of abuse by the Rev. Francis Fromholzer when she was a teen in the 1960s.

Her attorney says 69-year-old Bortz was unaware the church sought unfavorable information on her until she read the grand jury report last month.

The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation. Her lawyer tells the Morning Call she's seeking an apology and details on who tried to discredit her.

The Allentown Diocese denied attempting to discredit Bortz. The diocese says it never acted on the information and removed the priest.

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