February 22, 2006

Ruling hurts church abuse cases

Buffalo News

Associated Press

ALBANY - The state's highest court ruled Tuesday that the statute of limitations could be used as a defense by Catholic dioceses in two key sexual abuse cases, dealing a setback to people hoping to reinstate cases that had been dismissed.

In deciding two cases, the Court of Appeals said those who claimed they were sexually abused by priests in two New York State dioceses waited too long to take their cases to court and failed to show the dioceses prevented them from filing suit sooner. The court made no judgment on the merits of the alleged victims' claims.

Nationwide, hundreds of cases have been dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired and many more never get filed for the same reason, according to David Clohessy,Abuse Tracker Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests - also known as SNAP - a national support group for clergy abuse victims.

In one case, John Zumpano argued the abuse he suffered while in parochial school in Utica from 1963 to 1970 left him mentally incapable of bringing a lawsuit before the legal time limit. He argued the Syracuse diocese also tried to conceal the offending priest's wrongdoing to delay or prevent legal action and dissuaded legal action through its control over him.

Posted by kshaw at February 22, 2006 08:42 AM