January 19, 2006

Appeals court: Men can sue Joliet Diocese

The Herald News

By Ted Slowik
staff writer

OTTAWA In a ruling that could have major implications for victims of childhood sexual abuse in Illinois, an appeals court is upholding the rights of five men to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet.

In a split decision, the 3rd District Appellate Court rejected the diocese's argument that too much time had elapsed from when the alleged abuses occurred for the men to pursue legal action. The majority ruled that the statute of limitations hadn't expired, and that a jury should decide the truthfulness of the men's claims that they only recently discovered the lasting harm caused by the alleged abuses.

Advocates for victims of sexual abuse by priests hailed the decision, which the court issued on Friday. The diocese and attorneys for the men learned of the decision late Tuesday.

"This is part of a nationwide trend in which judges are more often ruling that the church's internal policies do not trump civil and criminal laws," said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Posted by kshaw at January 19, 2006 06:28 AM