May 13, 2005

2002 measure lifted statute of limitations


By Greg Moran
May 13, 2005

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego renewed an effort first made last year in federal court to declare unconstitutional a 2002 law that cleared the way for the hundreds of sexual-abuse cases facing dioceses around the state.

In a motion filed yesterday, the diocese said the law unfairly targets the church, exposing it to potential liability for sexual abuse by priests that other institutions such as schools, juvenile detention facilities and other government entities don't face.

The motion was filed in a case in which a woman contends she was molested as a child between 1975 and 1980 by a priest at St. Mary's Parish in Escondido.

The law in question lifted the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits alleging sexual abuse that occurred years ago. The San Diego diocese is facing about 100 suits filed under the law.

The arguments echo those made last year in a case involving the Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport, Iowa, and a Colorado man who said he was abused by a priest of that diocese. Some of the abuse was alleged to have occurred in San Diego while the priest and the youth were vacationing in the late 1960s. The suit was filed in San Diego to take advantage of the 2002 state law.

The Davenport diocese settled all the claims against it, including the one from the Colorado man, before a federal judge in San Diego could rule on the issue.

Posted by kshaw at May 13, 2005 06:55 AM