Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit Attorney And The Catholic Church

Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit Attorney Catholic Church

Priest Sex Abuse Lawsuit Attorney And The Catholic Church

 

Child Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Sexual Abuse Of Children In The catholic ChurchA 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.

The Minnesota Child Victims Act passed unanimously by the Senate and approved with 123 to 3 in the House of Representatives recognizes that “recovery doesn’t fit neatly on a timeline.” It removes the statute of limitation for all victims of child sexual abuse irrespective of ages and allows them to initiate legal claims of negligence against any organization accountable for their suffering and inaction. All past victims, yet to make claims or those who have had their claims rejected because of age barrier, can now pursue their sexual abuse lawsuits.

Child Sex Abuse Acts in Other States

Minnesota is the fifth state to end the civil statute of limitations governing the child sexual abuse lawsuits. Florida, Maine, Delaware, and Alaska have already done away with the time limitations while California and Hawaii offered shot-term windows allowing old child sex abuse lawsuits to overstep the statute of limitations.

At least 41 U.S. states have separate statute of limitations governing time restriction for sex abuse claims committed long ago. It usually runs from five to eight years from the day they attain the age of majority. In Illinois and Nevada, the victim can file a lawsuit within 10 years from the date of discovery of sex crimes. Connecticut allows one to file such lawsuits within 30 years from the age of majority. Sexual abuse victims in Ohio can file lawsuits until they attain the age of 30 years.

Church Sex Abuse Lawsuits

About 4,000 church sexual abuse lawsuits are awaiting trial or settlement in various U.S. courts and the expected settlement amount is likely to exceed $3.5 billion by 2013, says a report published by Bishop Accountability website. The recent discoveries highlighting failure of the Church to rein in abusers and release of secret files naming priests reported for sex crimes are likely to add more such litigation's in the coming months.

In May 2013, the Chicago Jesuits reached a settlement with six men, who filed sex abuse lawsuits alleging molestation and abuse by former priest Donald McGuire. The Jesuits paid about $20 million to end the lawsuits that accused the missionary order of employing the pedophile without any check. McGuire was sentenced to 25 years following his conviction in a number of sex abuse lawsuits in 2008.

Moraga school district of California paid $2.8 million in compensation to settle a sex abuse lawsuit filed by former student Kristen Cunnane. The court rejected the defendant contention that the lawsuit had lapsed as per the statute of limitation provisions. It agreed with the plaintiff’s argument that she came to know about the failure of the school district following a report in the local newspaper,

On May 21, 2013, two sex abuse lawsuits were filed against the Kansas City-Saint Joseph Roman Catholic Diocese. The plaintiffs joined five others who had filed similar church abuse lawsuits in the wake on conviction of Bishop Robert Finn of the diocese in September 2012 on the charge that he ignored reports of suspected abuse by the Reverend Shawn Ratigan. Presently serving imprisonment, Ratigan was found guilty of making child pornography. The diocese reportedly doled out $600,000 to settle a similar lawsuit in the middle of the month.

The Irish Christian Brothers settled about 400 sexual abuse lawsuits brought against them for $16.5 million in May 2013. The plaintiffs included nine former students of Palma High School of Salinas, California, who sued the order alleging abuse by the Reverend Gerald Funcheon and Brother Marcos Chavira in 1984 and 1985.

Recently, five Illinois men have filed church sexual abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet claiming abuse and molestations by priests during the 1970s and 1980s. Filled in a Will County circuit court, the plaintiffs have alleged that they were sexually abused when they were between 8 and 16 years, but suppressed their memories until the publication of “secret archives” by the diocese detailing about priests involved in such crimes.

Another church sexual abuse lawsuit filed in the Cumberland County Superior Court in mid-may 2013 by two brothers has sought punitive damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. The plaintiffs were allegedly sexually abused by a former priest between 1976 and 1979 while they were working as altar boys in South Berwick-based St. Michael's Parish. In 2005, the church named the priest, James Vallely, and seven other priests for their involvement in sexual abuse incidents. In 2009, the diocese paid $200,000 to a woman to settle a similar sex abuse lawsuit. The woman was an altar server when abused by Vallely in 1976.

Past Church Sex Abuse Lawsuit Settlements

In July 2012, a Washington state court ordered the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to pay $8 million as punitive and compensatory damages to a Vietnam War veteran. The plaintiff filed a civil church abuse lawsuit alleging that he was repeatedly raped by a priest while studying in St. Benedict School between 1961 and 1964.

A Miami court awarded $100 million to a church sexual abuse victim in November 2011. The plaintiff was sexually abused by a former Catholic priest. The Jesuits of the Northwest settled about 470 sexual abuse claims in March 2011 for $166 million. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was forced to dole out more than $700 million in 2007 to end about 550 church abuse claims filed against it. It preceded a similar settlement of around $198 million paid by the San Diego Diocese to 144 plaintiffs.

Other high profile settlements included the Boston Archdiocese’s $100 million in 2002 for nearly 900 sex abuse lawsuits and $129 million for over 300 litigants by the Portland Archdiocese.

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