February 14, 2006

Abuse, murder in troubled Toledo



Like Catholics everywhere, the faithful in Toledo, Ohio, have become somewhat inured to persistent media reports about priests sexually abusing children. But a Nov. 9 story in Toledo’s daily newspaper, The Blade, raised a few eyebrows. The headline read “Nun ‘called’ to support reforms of abuse laws: Sister said she was assaulted by priest.”

Ann-Marie Borgess, 42, a longtime Sister of Notre Dame, voluntarily entered the spotlight with the claim that she was repeatedly abused as a girl by Chet Warren, a former priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. Borgess said she’s now coming forward to support a bill pending in the Ohio legislature that would dramatically expand the statute of limitations for civil suits related to sexual abuse. The legislation, Senate Bill 17, would lengthen filing limitations from two to 20 years after the alleged victim turns 18 and it would establish a controversial “look back” period of one year that would allow suits to be filed on abuse claims as old as 35 years. The bill received recent support from Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit (NCR, Jan. 20).

The latter provision has drawn intense objections from the Catholic Conference of Ohio, overseen by the state’s bishops, which claims the look back period is unconstitutional and could encourage frivolous lawsuits that threaten the church’s welfare.

Posted by kshaw at February 14, 2006 04:09 PM