Lawyer-Banker's Family Files Wrongful Death Claims Against Archdiocese of Baltimore

Son, daughter of Francis X. Gallagher, Jr. allege his 2022 overdose death resulted from childhood clergy sexual abuse

BALTIMORE, June 27, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The adult children of accomplished Maryland lawyer and investment banker Francis (Frank Jr.) X. Gallagher, Jr., today sued the Archdiocese of Baltimore, affiliated St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and its owner, Society of St. Sulpice for causing their father’s drug overdose death last year. According to the multi-count complaint filed by attorneys from Grant & Eisenhofer and Sanford Heisler Sharp, Frank Jr. was sexually abused at age 14 by seminarian Mark Haight while working nights at St. Mary’s. All of the following facts are derived directly from the complaint.

Frank Jr. (pictured in his 1977 high school yearbook) was the son and namesake of Francis X. Gallagher, Sr. (Frank Sr.). Frank Sr. was a state legislator, racial justice advocate and founder of the influential Gallagher Evelius & Jones law firm. He was closely aligned with the Church and had become the AOB’s go-to attorney and advisor prior to his death. Frank Jr. was forced to work after his father died because his father’s law firm provided Frank Sr.’s widow and young children with no meaningful financial help. Frank Jr. got the job through his uncle, Fr. Joseph Gallagher, himself named by the AOB as “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse. “That Frank Jr. was the namesake of a Catholic leader was of no moment—Haight used Frank Jr. for his sexual gratification and, like in so many cases, the AOB did nothing to stop it,”  the complaint states.

The Church later revealed that Haight was a serial sexual predator in Maryland and elsewhere.

Plaintiffs allege that their father, a skilled and widely respected lawyer and investment banker, privately lived a tortured life rooted in his childhood sexual abuse. The resulting trauma led Frank Jr. to engage in risky and self-destructive behaviors that led to his drug overdose and death. Church-defendants responded with “apathy, denials, and indifference” when Frank Jr. revealed his abuse and fought a losing battle to get them to take “corrective actions” to prevent others from harm.  

This complaint is the first public disclosure of Frank Jr.’s abuse and the appalling manner in which the Church and the law firm, built on his father’s name and reputation, treated him. That the Pope knighted his father, and the Gallagher Firm continued to use the Gallagher name, was not enough. As they have done so many times before, they ignored his calls for the Church to act to protect children and to help other child sex abuse victims.

Plaintiff Flannery Gallagher, Frank Jr.’s daughter, issued a statement following the filing; it reads in part:

“We love our dad, and we miss him. There are countless people in our community and across the country who are suffering in the way our dad suffered because of this horrific scourge inside the Church, and today, we honor and stand with them, too. This filing is an effort to obtain a transparent, truthful record and to protect others from suffering the same fate.”

Plaintiffs’ counsel Steven J. Kelly, of G&E’s Baltimore Office and the firm’s sexual abuse practice group, said after the filing, “I am humbled and privileged to represent two people who truly believe that healing can only begin bSanford Heisler Sharp’s Criminal/Sexual Violence group added, “This is a time of reckoning for sexy shining light on decades and decades of darkness. They have chosen to pursue justice no matter where it leads and, for that, they are among the bravest clients I have ever represented.”

Co-counsel Christine Dunn, co-chair ofual abuse in Maryland. Frank Gallagher, Jr.’s life was forever changed because of the clergy sexual abuse he endured as a child. The defendants failed to protect Frank Jr. from sexual predators, and they must be held accountable for the devastating impact that had on his life and, ultimately, his death.”

Frank Jr.’s children care deeply about preventing child sexual abuse and, accordingly, support the mission of the Moore Center for the Prevention of  Child Sexual Abuse at Johns Hopkins. Flannery and her brother remain committed to supporting organizations working on child sexual abuse prevention and assistance for child sex abuse victims.

Note: All interview requests, including with Ms. Gallagher, should be directed to her representatives, noted below. Numerous resources, in addition to the Moore Center, exist regarding childhood sexual violence prevention and survivors/victims advocacy, including SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Maryland Chapter). 

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SOURCE Grant & Eisenhofer

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