Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit Attorney And The Catholic Church
Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits
A 51-year-old Saint Paul man has become the first plaintiff to file a sex abuse lawsuit after the new Minnesota Child Victims Act was signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton on May 24, 2013. The new law unanimously passed by the state Senate on May 8 has waived off restrictions imposed by the civil statute of limitation that previously disallowed victims molested or subjected to sexual crime during their childhood to sue perpetrators after attaining the age of 24 years. The sexual abuse lawsuit alleges multiple incidents of molestation by an ex-priest in the 1970s and has also sought for publication of names of 46 priests and church officials accused of “credible accusations of sexual abuse” while working for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The Sexual Abuse Lawsuit
Filed in a Ramsey County court in May 29, 2013, by a Twin City resident identified as “John Doe 1,” the child sex abuse lawsuit claims that the plaintiff was molested by a former St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church priest Thomas Adamson between 1976 and 1977 in St. Paul Park. The lawsuit has named Adamson, the Diocese of Winona, and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The last two have been accused of negligence, inaction, and employing a pedophile with access to children for years. While the sex abuse lawsuit seeks $50,000 in compensation from the defendants, it also wants the court to direct the church to release names of "credibly accused child molesting priests."
Adamson, the accused, first got into controversy in 1964 following sexual abuse allegations. However, he continued to work without any action or police report despite admission of his misdeeds. The former priest was named in a number of child sex abuse litigation's in the past.
The Diocese of Crookston paid more than $2.3 million to settle a dozen of sex abuse lawsuits filed against it following abuse by ex-priest James Porter. The culprit died in 2005 after serving a 20-year-long imprisonment.
Minnesota Child Victims Act Sets Off The Pace
Minnesota is on the verge of witnessing a rush of church sex abuse lawsuits following exemption in the statute of limitations granted by the Child Victims Act for bringing forward litigations by people abused as children. There have been hundreds of complaints against the state Archdiocese and dioceses alleging sexual abuse and molestation by their officials and priests as well as inaction and cover-up attempts when incidents were reported.
The demand for Child Victims Act picked up last year following a verdict by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Jim Keenan's sex abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in July 2012. The lawsuit filed by 45-year-old Keenan in 2006 accused defendants of covering up sexual abuse that he had to suffer from when selected as an altar boy between 1980 and 1982. The plaintiff sought waiver from the before 24-year statute of limitations on the ground that repressed memories led to delayed claim. Though there were expert witnesses to support the plaintiff’s claim, the court dismissed the church sexual abuse lawsuit on the ground that it could not bypass the statute of limitations. To make matters worse, the diocese took steps to recover the legal fees it had spent on the battle.
In April 2013, a similar church sexual abuse claim by a 46-year-old man involving a former dorm parent of Faribault-based Shattuck-St. Mary's school was dismissed by a Minnesota court citing the statute of limitations. The culprit, who was arrested in 2012 November, admitted that he had sexual relationship with the plaintiff 32 years ago.
Though the sexual abuse lawsuit failed, yet it caused widespread public indignation in Minnesota. A survey by the National Center for Victims of Crime then found that more than 63 percent people in Minnesota wanted unhindered opportunities for child sexual abuse victims to sue those who abused them and institutions facilitating their abuse at any given time. The civil society also called for erasing the civil statute of limitations and facilitating sex abuse survivors to come forward and sue abusers. Experts also advised in favor of such steps for two reasons – first, the institutions that allowed abuse must be held accountable irrespective of time lapse and second, a victim requires considerable psychological strength and encouragement that is time consuming to come out of childhood exploitation trauma and make sexual abuse claims.