March 15, 2005

Clergy abuse suits thrown out

Philadelphia Inquirer

By David O'Reilly
Inquirer Staff Writer

The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled yesterday that 18 adults had waited too long to sue the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over alleged sexual abuse by priests, spurning rulings in some counties that had kept the door open to such suits.

The three-judge panel ruled unanimously that even though the alleged abuse was "inexcusable," Pennsylvania's time limit on filing suits trumped any argument that the church had unlawfully interfered with the victims' timely reporting of their abuse.

The ruling appears to scuttle virtually all the abuse suits on file against the archdiocese. If upheld, it also could protect other dioceses in Pennsylvania from embarrassing disclosures of misconduct and financially crushing judgments or settlements.

C. Clark Hodgson Jr., who represented the archdiocese in arguments before the court last month, said he believed the ruling effectively blocked such suits against dioceses across the state.

Posted by kshaw at March 15, 2005 07:19 AM