Providence Diocese Accused of Victim Blaming in Lawsuit

Posted on: June 2, 2022 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

A recently filed lawsuit by a clergy sexual abuse survivor accuses the leaders of the Rhode Island Catholic Church of “victim blaming” and ignoring multiple allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy.

In the lawsuit, the survivor, Scott Ross, claimed he was a victim of alleged abuser Father Francis C. Santilli. Ross said he lived for years with feelings of “anguish, guilt, shame, denial, and confusion.” Ross chose to come forward now on the 25th anniversary of his brother David’s suicide to honor his brother’s memory. David Ross was also a victim of clergy sexual abuse and Scott feels it was a big factor in his brother’s choice to end his life. When Scott Ross realized there had been multiple reports of abuse against Santilli by other children and the Diocese of Providence dismissed them as not credible, he knew he had to do something. Santilli explained:

The fact that this diocese had credible evidence of prior sexual abuse at the hands of this one priest — at least two, if not three, prior instances going back 10 years — and they took no action … and kept him in ministry with access to children, I find that morally bankrupt, morally reprehensible, and someone needs to be held accountable.

Rhode Island’s revival law states that victims can bring civil suits against perpetrators only, up until they reach 53 years of age. In 2019, a similar Rhode Island clergy sexual abuse case was brought by three survivors against the Diocese of Providence. The diocese argued for the court to dismiss the case since it was not a “perpetrator.” The judge did dismiss that case, ruling that perpetrators were the people who actually committed the abuse. The case has been appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Most likely, Ross will have to wait for the ruling to come down in that case, before his can move forward.

The entire article can be viewed here.

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