Diocese of Providence Challenges Rhode Island’s New Sexual Abuse Law

Posted on: July 6, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

Diocese of Providence Rhode Island’s Sexual Abuse LawIn May of 2019 The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee voted unanimously to extend the statute of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse. Jim Scanlan, who is a sexual abuse survivor, noted “This was about protecting future generations of kids, as well as enabling survivors who haven’t come forward or are trying to come forward to have a voice.”

In September of 2019 a man sued the Diocese of Providence alleging sexual abuse suffered ‘hundreds of times’ by a North Providence priest in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The filing set into motion extreme push back by the Diocese of Providence. It has asked the Superior Court to dismiss the case stating that it believes the new law, which allows sexual abuse survivors to come forward, is, in part, unconstitutional.

Until the Superior Court rules, lawyers for the dioceses, in a separate filing, are saying they shouldn’t have to turn over any records. In addition, the diocese is arguing that the church is not responsible because under the law the suit can only be filed against a “perpetrator defendant”. According to the church’s lawyers, “Allowing this case to proceed would sweep aside two decades of work and attention by our courts and General Assembly.” The perpetrator, the diocese has stated, is the person who actually abuses the child, not an institution that may have failed to properly supervise them.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs disagree and argue that ”the diocese and its leaders were so implicated in the sexual abuse by their priests, their misconduct so extreme, that they were themselves perpetrators under the law.”

The entire article can be viewed here.

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