February 02, 2006

Statute has run out, church says of brothers' abuse suit

Deseret Morning News

By Geoffrey Fattah
Deseret Morning News
Attorneys representing the Catholic Church and Judge Memorial High School called the sexual abuse reported by two brothers at the hands of a former teacher and priest egregious, but they told the Utah Supreme Court that the time to sue over the abuse had run out years ago.
"There have been violations of trust and principles at a tremendous number of levels," said Matthew McNulty, attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City during oral arguments Wednesday. But three attorneys for the church said under Utah law, the statute of limitations is four years from the time the two brothers turned 18, meaning they had until they were 22 to complain to someone within the church or hire an attorney, neither of which was done.
Ralph Louis Colosimo, now 52, and Charles Matthew Colosimo, now 44, charged they were repeatedly sexually abused by former priest James Rapp between 1970 and '75. But the brothers didn't take action until 2003, when they filed an $80 million lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, the school's board of trustees, the Archdiocese of San Francisco and the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, the order Rapp belonged to.
Larry Keller, attorney for the Colosimos, said the brothers were taught to revere and respect priests and school officials. Add the fact that Rapp was also a friend of their family and the shame associated with the abuse, it is understandable that the men stayed silent for so long, Keller said. It wasn't until the two read an article in the Washington Post in 2002, detailing Rapp's history of inappropriate behavior involving young males, that they realized the scope of the problem.

Posted by kshaw at February 2, 2006 06:52 AM