Ruling Ends Most Priest-Abuse Legal Claims
Top Court Says Statute of Limitations Bars Most Civil Lawsuits. Accusers Say Actions of Church Officials Shameful
By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News
August 24, 2006
The Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday cleared away "the overwhelming majority" of civil legal claims against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati in the child sex-abuse scandal involving priests when it upheld lower-court rulings that the statute of limitations had expired in two Hamilton County cases, an archdiocesan spokesman said.
Dan Andriacco said the court's action clears all the cases under appeal and most lawsuits with large numbers of plaintiffs. A handful of lawsuits remain in area trial courts.
"It's never a completely joyous occasion for us when we're victorious in court in a child-abuse case," Andriacco said. "We're very aware that this continues to be a very painful experience for victims and, to a lesser extent, all Catholics."
The archdiocese covers 500,000 Catholics in 19 counties, including the Miami Valley.
Andriacco said the statute of limitations is important because it would be difficult for the courts to reach just decisions in old cases relying on dimming memories of witnesses.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, had a much different reaction to the supreme court's Wednesday decisions.
"It's shameful that Catholic officials keep hiding behind every conceivable technicality and use legal hardball tactics to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups hidden," Clohessy said. "It's hard to imagine Jesus telling deeply wounded victims of horrific sex crimes, 'I'll fight you all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court.'
"We feel terribly sad for these ... brave men and women who overcame their fears and shame and self-blame, only to be tossed aside by callous church leaders and archaic state laws."
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