Maine Passes Child Sexual Abuse SOL Reform

Maine Governor Janet Mills recently signed into law a bill that will allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits against their perpetrators no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. While the state did eliminate the state of limitations for childhood sexual abuse claims in 2000, that law was not retroactive so survivors whose claims were expired at that point could not bring them forward.

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Governor Signs Bill Eliminating Statute of Limitations for Childhood Sex Abuse Survivors

Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 73 into law in April 2021 which eliminates the civil statute of limitations for sexual assault of minors and adults. One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet, said of the new law, “Victims deserve justice whenever they choose to seek it. Outdated laws won’t be able to stop them anymore.”

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Statute of Limitations Bill Stalled in PA Legislature

Pressure to change existing statute of limitations laws for survivors of sexual abuse began to emerge from the public after a 2018 grand jury report from the state’s Attorney General shed light on just how deep the Catholic Church’s cover-up of child sexual abuse ran in Pennsylvania. Three years later, efforts to change those laws are still getting bogged down in the state’s legislature.

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Kansas Bureau of Investigation Opens over 100 Sexual Abuse Cases Against Dioceses

Two years after launching an investigation into child sexual abuse claims against the state’s Catholic dioceses, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation has opened 120 cases and received 205 reports of clergy sexual abuse. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt requested the Bureau investigate reports of sexual abuse by clergy in the state as other Attorneys Generals have done in states around the country.

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Diocese of Oakland Priest Accused of Raping Boy Decades Ago

A recent lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Oakland accuses deceased priest Monsignor John T. McCracken of raping a young boy on multiple occasions between 1972 and 1974. It is the first time McCracken has been accused of sexual abuse of a child and his name is not on the Dioceses’ 2019 list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children.

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Older Survivors of Sexual Abuse Will Have to Wait for Statute Changes

Connecticut’s current civil statute of limitations law (SOL) for childhood sexual abuse leaves older victims of abuse without an avenue to pursue justice because their claims are time-barred by the law. Unfortunately, those survivors will have to wait at least another year to see if any impactful changes will be made to those statute of limitations laws since no bill to change the SOL was introduced to the state legislature in the 2020 session.

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Wisconsin AG to Investigate State’s Catholic Dioceses

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul sent a letter to the state’s five Catholic dioceses notifying them that his office will begin an investigation into sexual abuse allegations against clergy and other faith leaders. In the letter, Kaul asked the dioceses to preserve any relevant documents or information regarding sexual abuse by clergy

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Tucson and Los Angeles Dioceses Accused of Violating Racketeering Laws

The Tucson and Los Angeles Dioceses have been accused of violating Arizona’s racketeering laws in a federal lawsuit filed at the end of 2020, which happens to coincide with the end of Arizona’s revival window. The lawsuit alleges the dioceses routinely buried allegations of priests sexually abusing children and would transfer those priests to different parishes instead of alerting law enforcement. A violation of Arizona’s racketeering law also means the state’s Attorney General could investigate the allegations as well.

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Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River Facing 35 Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

A sexual abuse lawsuit filed by Sam Garcia at the end of 2020 makes 35 lawsuits now filed against the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly. All the plaintiffs are men who claim as boys they were sexually assaulted and raped by Christian Brother K. Paul McGlade while they attended Academy at Mount Saint John in Deep River during the 1990s. Garcia is the only plaintiff who identified himself by name.

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Diocese of Brooklyn Sued by Insurer Over Sex Abuse Claims

The Catholic Church’s past history of covering up childhood sexual abuse claims has led to another lawsuit being filed, this time by one of its insurers. Arrowood Indemnity Company, an insurance company that covers the Diocese of Brooklyn, has filed a lawsuit asking the court to rule that it not be held responsible for defending or indemnifying the Diocese against sexual abuse claims.

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Defrocked Charlotte Priest Faces New Sexual Abuse Claim

Defrocked Charlotte Diocese priest Robert Yurgel is facing a new claim that he allegedly sexually abused a boy as young as five years old inside St. Matthews Church in Ballantyne. Yurgel has already served 8 years in prison for sexually abusing an altar boy back in 1999. The lawsuit has also named the Charlotte Diocese and the Capuchin Franciscan Friars.

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Archdiocese of Chicago Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million to Settle Sex Abuse Claim

The Archdiocese of Chicago agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a man who claimed he was sexually abused as a child by defrocked priest Daniel McCormack back in the early 2000s. This Catholic Church settlement pushes the total to over $11 million paid to survivors who were abused by McCormack. Unfortunately, this is not the first time the Archdiocese of Chicago has had to pay out millions of dollars in order to settle a sexual abuse claim against one of its clergy.

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Hundreds of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits Filed in 2020 Against Catholic Church in New Jersey

More than 230 sexual abuse lawsuits were filed against the five Catholic dioceses in New Jersey from December 2019 to December 2020. The large number of lawsuits directly coincides with the state’s extension of its statute of limitations laws in civil actions for sexual abuse claims as well as its opening of a revival window which allows time barred claims to be brought before a specific date. The New Jersey revival window is set to close on November 30, 2021. Since it can often take years before a sexual abuse survivor feels comfortable enough to talk about being abused, extending the statute of limitations and opening the revival window gives victims an opportunity to receive some justice for what was done to them.

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Archdiocese of Chicago Investigating Separate Incidents of Sexual Abuse

The Archdiocese of Chicago suspended two priests from ministry within six weeks of each other due to independent allegations of child sexual abuse. Separate letters from Cardinal Blase Cupich stated that Rev. Daniel McCarthy and Rev. David Ryan were both asked to step away from ministry after the Archdiocese received allegations of sexual abuse of children against both priests.

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Buffalo Diocese Sued By New York Attorney General Following Two-Year Investigation

After a two-year investigation, New York Attorney General Letitia James sued the Diocese of Buffalo, alleging it covered up allegations of child sexual abuse and misused charitable assets by supporting predatory priests instead of following protocol and reporting them to authorities. Former Bishop Richard Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

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West Virginia Supreme Court Rules Religious Institutions Exempt from Consumer Protection Law

In an opinion issued in late 2020, the West Virginia Supreme Court rejected Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s claim that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston violated the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act (CCPA) when it hired “admitted and credibly-accused sexual abusers” to work in schools and camps without warning prospective consumers.” The majority opinion stated that the CCPA does not apply to services offered by religious institutions.

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Catholic Church Parishioners Seek Financial Transparency from Dioceses

A survey done by Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) concludes that only five U.S. dioceses are financially transparent. According to its website, VOTF is “a lay organization of faithful Catholics. . .whose mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church.”

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Texas Priest Sentenced for Child Sex Abuse

Texas priest Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was sentenced to 10 years in state prison after pleading guilty to two charges of second-degree felony indecency with a child. The charges stem from when La Rosa-Lopez served at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe Texas in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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Lawyers for Sexual Abuse Victims say $300 Million Offered by Boy Scouts Falls Short

The Boy Scouts of America has offered to fund a trust with at least $300 million to compensate child sex abuse victims. The offer is part of a reorganization plan submitted by the Boy Scouts after filing for bankruptcy in 2020. The money will come from local councils, insurance policies and the sale of a collection of Norman Rockwell paintings.

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Truth and Reconciliation Commission Says Seattle Archbishop is Stonewalling Them

Heal our Heart, the citizen-led group of prominent Catholics in Washington State discussed last April, are continuing their call for a public review of the “Seattle Archdiocese’s private records on clergy abuse.” The alliance remains resolute that a ‘truth and reconciliation’ approach to the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal will bring healing through transparency.

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Illinois Priest Michael Pfleger Faces Sex Abuse Accusations

A popular Chicago priest is facing accusations he molested two brothers back in the 1970s when they were boys. The men, who now live in Texas, accused Father Michael Pfleger of sexually abusing them in his bedroom at the churches he served at on Chicago’s South Side. The brothers have chosen to remain anonymous since they still have family in Chicago and don’t want them to receive any backlash from Pfleger’s supporters.

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Maryland Statute of Limitations for Clergy Sexual Abuse Cases

How long you have to file a clergy abuse lawsuit in Maryland is a common question. For some Maryland clergy abuse survivors, it may take years, even decades, to recall the abuse since traumatic events suffered as a child are often suppressed. Even survivors who haven’t repressed those memories often still need many years to process the pain and receive treatment or counseling before they are ready to share their stories.

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Pennsylvania Revival Window Moves Closer to Reality

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania made headlines in August of 2018 with the release of the Diocese Victim Report, which came after a two-year grand jury investigation into sexual abuse and cover-ups in six of the eight Pennsylvania Dioceses. In its wake, Pennsylvania legislators took aim at updating laws involving sexual abuse and a survivor’s ability to pursue a civil action against an abuser and the institutions that covered it up.

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Dioceses of Camden Files for Bankruptcy

On Oct. 1, 2020, the Diocese of Camden filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A press release subsequent to the filing cited COVID-19, payments already made through the Victims Compensation Program, and state legislative changes regarding the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims as the reasons the Diocese sought bankruptcy protection.

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What Does it Mean When a Priest or Clergy is ‘Credibly Accused’?

Dioceses have been publishing lists of ‘credibly accused’ priests or clergy regarding child sexual abuse since 2002. However, many people may wonder what it means if a priest or clergy member has been credibly accused of sexual abuse. What standards, if any, are in place for a name to be added to a particular list? A look at the history and process of how these lists came to be may help show what it means if a name is on an ‘accused’ list.

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Deadline Set for Filing Clergy Abuse Claims Against Diocese of Buffalo

Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York set the bar date for victims with claims of sexual abuse against the Diocese of Buffalo at August 14, 2021. A bar date is the date by which creditors (victims) need to submit proof of a claim. This means that victims have until August 14, 2021 to submit a claim against the Diocese of Buffalo in federal bankruptcy proceedings. The diocese will be required to notify the public of the August 2021 bar date via notices through mailings, publications, and postings.

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Fr. Gary Carr Accused of Sexual Misconduct in Missouri

In April, the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau issued a press release stating that an allegation of physical/sexual misconduct against Father Gary Carr met the criteria for publication. In July, the diocese issued a second release finding that three more allegations against Carr also passed the threshold for publication. All four allegations were made by men who claim that Fr. Carr made inappropriate physical/sexual contact with them when they were boys.

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Diocese of Phoenix Faces Clergy Sex Abuse Lawsuits

In 2020, child sexual abuse claims against two priests who served in the Diocese of Phoenix made headlines. Alleged claims of sexual abuse of children against Father John “Jack” Spaulding and Father John P. Doran are a bleak reminder of the scale of clergy abuse not only within the Diocese of Phoenix, but the Catholic church as a whole.

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Allegations of Sexual Abuse Emerge Against Two Priests Who Served in the Diocese of Greensburg, PA

Allegations of sexual abuse by two priests who served in the Greensburg Diocese were brought to light recently by the State Attorney General’s office and the diocese itself. Father Emil Payer’s name was released by the diocese as part of a report by Bishop Edward Malesic. The report stated that Payer’s name was being added to the diocese’s list of priests who served within the diocese and had one or more “credible and substantiated” allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them. The second priest, Father Andrew M. Kawecki, was arrested and charged with several sexual abuse crimes against a former altar boy.

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