Woman sues diocese, alleges ‘smear’ effort over abuse claims

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — 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.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday on behalf of Juliann Bortz, alleges church officials sought unfavorable information about 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 of this 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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