March 09, 2005

Court overturns time limitations for sex-abuse trial; appellate judges reinstate lawsuit

Toledo Blade


LIMA, Ohio - In a decision that could affect clerical sexual abuse cases statewide, Ohio's 3rd District Court of Appeals has ruled that a civil suit filed against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati can proceed even though the statute of limitations has expired.

The ruling reverses a Shelby County Common Pleas Court decision to throw out the lawsuit by the alleged victim, claiming that he was abused as a minor by the Rev. Thomas Hopp, because he did not file it within two years after turning 18.

The appellate court sent the case back to the common pleas court, agreeing with the victim, who filed anonymously as John Doe, that the statute of limitations should not apply for a number of reasons, including his arguments that the archdiocese failed to report the priest's alleged crimes to law enforcement authorities, that it concealed the alleged abuse, and that it engaged in "a pattern of corrupt activities."

"This is the first court of appeals in Ohio to rule in favor of a victim in terms of statute of limitations," said Konrad Kircher, a Mason, Ohio, attorney. Mr. Kircher filed the suit along with Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson, who has filed more than 400 sex-abuse lawsuits against dioceses.

Named in the lawsuit were the Cincinnati archdiocese, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, and Father Hopp.

Catherine Hoolahan, a Toledo attorney who has represented more than a dozen people with cases against the Toledo diocese, said many of the same arguments on statutes of limitations have been made by victims throughout Ohio, including Toledo.

Posted by kshaw at March 9, 2005 05:43 AM