February 17, 2005

Court asked to allow suit against archdiocese

Phildadelphia Inquirer

By David O'Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer

A lawyer for 18 adults who allege that they were sexually abused as children by Philadelphia archdiocesan priests asked an appeals court yesterday to allow such victims to sue the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Berks County lawyer Jay Abramowitch told a three-judge panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court that courts should not automatically bar an adult from suing a diocese for abuse simply because it happened many years ago.

Abramowitch argued that state law requires that a jury - not a judge - decide whether a diocese unlawfully concealed its role in allowing a priest to abuse, or played on the victim's trust, or interfered with the victim's prompt reporting of abuse.

The archdiocese's lawyer urged the court to uphold Pennsylvania's strict statute of limitations, which requires an injured party to file suit within a prescribed number of years.

Philadelphia lawyer C. Clark Hodgson Jr. told the judges that state courts have long held that sexual molestation - even of a child - is a form of battery that starts the statute running as soon as it happens.

Posted by kshaw at February 17, 2005 06:38 AM