Mark Beaky, 59, of York, Pa., attended the now-defunct Hellertown school from 1971 to 1975.
In a lawsuit filed in Lehigh County Court, he claims that beginning in 1974 he suffered sexual and other forms of abuse by his homeroom teacher at the time, Lawrence Haftle.
According to a Channel 69 News story, Beaky claims in his suit that Haftle would offer him marijuana during “off-campus car rides” the two would take over the lunch period.
The car rides would eventually turn into a nearly everyday encounter, the suit says, with Haftle on at least one occasion taking him to his farm for a weekend visit during which he and other kids were allegedly exposed to alcohol and drug use by adults and teens who were also visiting.
As outlined in the WFMZ story, Beaky claims in his suit that during that weekend Haftle molested him several times and that the alleged sexual abuse continued throughout that school year, only stopping once Haftle was arrested and jailed on drug charges.
Haftle, who died at the age of 73 in May 2010, left his teaching position at the school in 1975. According to his obituary, in addition to education he worked locally in the fields of veterinary medicine and dog grooming.
Beaky’s lawsuit cites a widely-publicized 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report which detailed numerous instances of sexual abuse involving Catholic clergy as well as subsequent attempts to silence victims and cover up abuse by senior church officials.
“This is another lawsuit based on a case now before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court,” the Allentown diocese said in a statement. “These suits are based on a novel legal theory and have been filed regarding allegations of clergy abuse in many dioceses. Bishop (Alfred A.) Schlert has always been transparent about the issue of abuse of minors.”
St. Theresa of the Child Jesus school, which was founded in 1940, closed its doors for good at the end of the 2019-20 school year after volunteer-led fundraising efforts derailed by the coronavirus pandemic failed to save the school from its financial troubles.