February 24, 2006

State Could Allow Suits Over Old Sex Abuse Claims


By Colleen Slevin, AP Writer

(AP) DENVER Colorado lawmakers are considering following California's lead and allowing victims of alleged sex abuse to file lawsuits years after the fact -- a move the Roman Catholic Church says could weaken its ministry and hurt parishioners.

State Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald, a Democrat and a Catholic, wants to suspend the statute of limitations for two years -- a year longer than California -- and allow people who say they were sexually abused at private institutions to file suit even if the alleged abuser is dead.

In California, a one-year statute suspension led to about 800 lawsuits against the Catholic Church, including more than 500 against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

"I'm personal witness to lives being saved because of this law, which allowed victims to have recourse through the courts," said Katherine Freberg, an attorney representing dozens of people who filed claims in California. Many of her cases were settled -- including 33 in a $38 million deal with the Diocese of Orange in Orange County -- but others against the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are still pending.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2006 07:04 PM