PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) -- Just in time for his 53rd birthday, Philip Edwardo has come forward to accuse a Rhode Island priest of molesting him as a child.

He's suing the Providence Diocese alleging hundreds of acts of sexual abuse.

Edwardo's attorney, Timothy Conlon, claims the diocese has hidden behind the state's statute of limitations, and wants them to take responsibility.

"Gracefully acknowledge that what they did was truly wrong on a moral and legal level," Conlon said.

Edwardo says catholic priest Philip Magaldi sexually abused him in the 1970s and '80s while he was an altar boy at St. Anthony Church in North Providence.

Magaldi died in 2008, but he previously served two years in prison for embezzling church funds and spending them on vacations and other gifts.

The lawsuit names current Bishop Tobin, and the bishop at the time of the alleged acts, Bishop Gelineau.

"The liar is the institution," Conlon said. "The church has been in denial about the breadth of their involvement."

Conlon says the church is at fault, because it took steps like relocating priests accused of abuse to protect them from accountability.

"The law looks at the guy who drives the getaway car the same way they look at the guy who pulls the trigger," he said.

Conlon also says he believes more victims are out there.

"For every sexual abuse victim who's strong enough to come forward, I have to believe there's four or five who feel powerless to open their mouths."

Conlon is asking anyone with any information on other potential abuses by Magaldi to come forward.

The diocese responded to the lawsuit by saying that its legal counsel is in the process of reviewing it.

 

©WLNE-TV/ABC6 2019