January 11, 2006

Bishop Says Priest Abused Him as Teenager

Washington Post

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 11, 2006; Page A03

Breaking ranks with his peers, a Roman Catholic bishop called yesterday for state legislatures to temporarily remove the time limits that have prevented many victims of sex abuse from suing the church.

In making that extraordinary appeal, Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit also unburdened himself of a secret. As a teenager 60 years ago, he said, he was "inappropriately touched" by a priest.

Gumbleton, 75, is the first U.S. bishop to disclose that he was a victim of clergy sexual abuse. He is also the first to endorse proposals in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and other states to follow California's example and open a one-year window for victims to file lawsuits over sexual abuse, no matter how long ago it took place.

"I don't want to exaggerate that I was terribly damaged. It was not the kind of sexual abuse that many of the victims experience," Gumbleton said in a telephone interview. But, he said, he knows why sex abuse victims often cannot file lawsuits within the period allowed by the statute of limitations, which in many states is two to five years after the alleged crime.

Posted by kshaw at January 11, 2006 08:04 AM