Number of Clergy Abuse Lawsuits Filed in Pennsylvania Surge
Posted on: November 20, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
Over the last few years, many states have passed reform bills to help survivors of childhood sexual abuse hold their abusers, and the institutions responsible for the abuse, accountable. Several states, including New York and California, have passed laws setting up what are commonly referred to as ‘revival windows.’ These ‘revival windows’ create a time frame for previously expired claims to be brought on behalf of the survivor.
While Pennsylvania legislators have not passed any type of revival law, lawsuits involving clergy abuse from decades ago continue to be filed. A look at two recent events may shed some light on why this is happening.
In August 2018, Pennsylvania’s Attorney General’s Office released an 884-page report detailing clergy abuse throughout six of the eight dioceses in the state, including Allentown, Scranton, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. While Pennsylvania doesn’t have a specific discovery rule regarding child sexual abuse cases, it is suspected that legal counsel for the dioceses will argue that the release of the report puts survivors on notice of the connection between the clergy abuse and any harm done to them personally. Moreover, given that states generally have a two-year time restriction on initiating civil litigation, plaintiff’s attorneys may be filing lawsuits before the two-year anniversary of the report’s release out of caution for survivors. According to the Associated Press, about 150 lawsuits were filed before the two-year mark.
In addition to the report’s release, a key court decision sparked another opening for lawyers in their efforts to hold the Catholic Church accountable. A three-judge Superior Court panel overturned a lower court’s ruling in a clergy abuse case involving the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. The case was originally dismissed because the lower court ruled that the case was filed after the statute of limitations. However, the panel ruled the plaintiff could continue her suit against the diocese of Altoona-Johnstown because the accusations against the church were that it concealed the abuse. The Superior Court ruled that a jury should get to decide, given the circumstances, if the victim’s delay in reporting the abuse, given the concealment, was reasonable. The implications of the reversal are vast, and the state’s Supreme Court is set to review the Superior Court’s ruling on time limits regarding priest abuse lawsuits.
The entire article can be viewed here.
Sexual Abuse Lawyer for Pennsylvania Clergy Abuse Victims
If you or a loved one were a victim of sexual abuse within the Pennsylvania Dioceses, contact our firm today. Our law firm handles Pennsylvania sexual abuse lawsuits and can help you understand how long you have to file a clergy abuse claim in the state of Pennsylvania. Call us now at 1-800-941-7209 for a FREE and PRIVATE consultation.