Rhode Island’s Attorney General Defends Updated Sex Abuse Law
Posted on: July 10, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
Rhode Island’s Attorney General, Peter Neronha, and his office are entering the legal arena on a civil case between three men, Philip Edwardo, Peter Cummings and Robert Houllahan, who are claiming they were sexually abused by priests within the Diocese of Providence.
The AG’s office did not get involved in 2019 when the Providence Diocese initially challenged the New Rhode Island law, but contend they were watching the litigation closely. In an email to the Providence Journal in April 2020, a spokeswoman for Neronha’s office, Kristy dosReis said “when it became clear that the Superior Court was likely to reach the constitutional issue, we advised the court of our intention to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief.” She continued, “In this case, we initially advised the court that we would not immediately intervene, but left open the possibility of doing so in the future. We continued to closely follow the litigation and, when it became clear that the Superior Court was likely to reach the constitutional issue, we advised the court of our intention to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief.”
The Rhode Island law which passed in May 2019 allows victims of childhood sexual abuse to file a claim against “perpetrators” within 35 years of their 18th birthday even if the claim would have been previously time-barred under the old law. All three men, Philip Edwardo, Peter Cummings and Robert Houllahan, were under the age of 53 when the suit was filed which is significant because that is the cut-off age allowed by the new law for filing a lawsuit of this type.
The Attorney General is only stepping in on the constitutionality of victims’ ability to file a claim under the new law even if they would have been previously time-barred under the old law. Their office is not looking into the viability of the victim’s actual abuse claims, or if the Diocese of Providence should be held liable as ‘perpetrators’.
The entire article can be viewed here.
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