July 09, 2005

Court considers sexual abuse cases

The Herald News

By Ted Slowik

OTTAWA After a child has been sexually abused, when should that person realize the lasting harm caused by those wrongful acts?

That's the question a three-judge panel must decide as the 3rd District Appellate Court considers the lawsuits of five men against a priest, a former priest, Bishop Joseph Imesch and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet.

At various times in the past three decades, state law has said the answer to the question is anywhere from when the child reaches 20 years to 38 years or older. The five men were all in their mid-30s when they filed suits in 2002.

A Will County judge dismissed the lawsuits last year, ruling too much time had elapsed since the alleged abuses occurred for the men to pursue legal action. The appellate court's ruling is expected within three months.

Joliet resident Brian Softcheck and two others allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Lawrence Mullins when they were altar boys ranging in age from 9 to 13 between 1978 and 1980 at the Cathedral of St. Raymond.

Posted by kshaw at July 9, 2005 09:08 AM