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A Pennsylvania Superior Court denied a motion to proceed with time-barred cases (AP Story copied below). The article quotes a portion of the judeges ruling:

 

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski wrote that, in the eyes of the law, the alleged
victims' right to sue would have been preserved only if they had begun
investigating the church's role at the time they had been injured. No such
inquiry took place, he wrote.We are
asking for the following information:

 

1) Victims who reported their abuse to church officials (within the time period of the statute of limitations laws at the time of their abuse) and were deceived by the church: such as being told that they were the only ones, or church officials telling the victim that they would take care of it then did nothing, etc. It would be particularly helpful to hear from people abused in PA, but it could be from any state or diocese.

 

2) Other states that have allowed cases to proceed, even though these cases fell outside the time period of the SOL laws at the time of the abuse occured.

 

Lawyers are appealing decision to the PA Supreme Court and could use any documentation that would help overturn this very devestating ruling, which will probably effect all the cases in PA and, potentially, in other states.

Please send any information to

Barbara Dorris

gymsoul@dorris.biz

 

 

 

NY Times- March 15, 2005
Pa. Court Nixes Church Sex Abuse Lawsuit
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 11:32 a.m. ET

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A state appeals court delivered a stinging setback to
alleged victims of clergy abuse by ruling that 17 adults who said they were
molested by priests as children waited too long to sue.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court said Monday that even if officials
of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia were guilty of
``inexcusable conduct,'' they were protected by Pennsylvania's strict
statute of limitations, which generally requires lawsuits in such cases to
be filed within two years.

One of the cases dates back to 1957, and the most recent alleges abuse in
1983.

The court rejected the plaintiffs' allegations that the church so
successfully covered up its role in protecting abusive priests that no one
could have suspected the archdiocese of negligence until a wave of sex abuse
scandals brought the issue to the public's attention in 2002.

The archdiocese has said that its records show 44 priests have been
``credibly'' accused of molesting minors since the 1950s.

Only one priest has been charged in Philadelphia since a grand jury began
investigating in 2002. The Rev. James J. Behan pleaded guilty to sexually
abusing a student at a school for boys in the late 1970s.

Judge Peter Paul Olszewski wrote that, in the eyes of the law, the alleged
victims' right to sue would have been preserved only if they had begun
investigating the church's role at the time they had been injured. No such
inquiry took place, he wrote.

``The abuses committed by agents of the Catholic Church are, by far, not
isolated events,'' Olszewski wrote. ``Nevertheless, we are constrained to
agree with the Archdiocese in this matter.''

The ruling disposes of a majority of the abuse-related lawsuits pending
against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and could have implications
statewide. Nearly identical cases are pending against dioceses elsewhere.

Richard M. Serbin, an attorney who represents several alleged victims, said
he would appeal.

Donna Farrell, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, declined
to comment on the ruling, other than to say that the church will ``continue
to offer our support and compassion for all victims of abuse and to do
everything possible to ensure that such abuse does not occur in the
future.''

The church had argued in court that it would be impossible to hold a fair
trial now over allegations that are many years old.

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