The Diocese of Albany recently added retired priest Father Gregory Weider for “reasonable cause” to its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.
The Diocese of Albany recently added retired priest Father Gregory Weider for “reasonable cause” to its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Abuse Claim Against Defrocked Priest Settled for $1.2 Million
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.
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 Outdated laws won’t be able to stop them anymore.”
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.
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.
A ruling by the Kansas Court of Appeals holding that negligence claims against institutions are not barred by the statute of limitations will allow a sexual abuse lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Kansas City to move forward
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.
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
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.
Bill 492 received overwhelming support and passed the Louisiana Legislative Committee and will now head to the Louisiana State Legislature House of Representatives. The Bill extends the statute of limitations (SOL) for sexual abuse survivors to 35 years after the victim’s 18th birthday.
On April 30th, 2021, Arkansas legislators passed significant new law aimed at providing survivors of childhood sexual abuse a greater opportunity to hold their abusers, and those institutions responsible for allowing the abuse, accountable.
In 2016, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, leader of the Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program as a way to compensate victims of clergy sex abuse, and according to the church, “promote healing” and “bring closure” to the sexual abuse crisis ailing the Catholic Church.
In the last year, the Archdiocese of Seattle has agreed to settlements totaling over $2 million with victims who claim they were sexually abused by four members of the Archdiocese’s clergy.
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.
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.
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.
After a serious ‘blunder’ by Pennsylvania’s Department of State earlier this month, Pennsylvania legislators look to pass a new bill that would allow child sex abuse victims a two-year ‘window’ to file civil claims in court against both public and private entities.
According to a recently released report, nationwide the Catholic Church has spent more than $10 million on lobbyists over the last seven years, fighting to keep state statute of limitations reforms from going into effect. The report was commissioned by law firms who represent survivors of clergy sex abuse.
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.
<>The three Roman Catholic Dioceses in Colorado paid out a total $7.3 million in sexual abuse settlements to over 70 people who were sexually abused as children by clergy. The payments came as part of the Colorado priest abuse reparations program. The Catholic Church settlements cover claims that went back decades and marked the end of a 22-month investigation by Colorado Attorney General, Phil Weiser. <>
At the beginning of 2021, the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee overwhelmingly passed legislation focused on creating a revival window for child sexual abuse survivors. After passing the General Assembly in February, the bill should have been included on the May 2021 ballot so, if passed, the state’s constitution could be amended.
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.
In 2018, Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester announced that the Archdiocese would seek bankruptcy protection amidst the growing number of sexual abuse lawsuits. Nearly 3 years later, the committee set up to represent the survivors, along with the Archdiocese, have reached a confidential settlement.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Three sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Scranton Diocese at the end of 2020 allege that church officials knew the accused clergy members were abusing children and instead of punishing those priests, they transferred them to other parishes.
Rhode Island is reviewing a new bill to expand the current law’s definition of “perpetrator”, The bill is in response to state court rulings which, victims’ advocates say, have narrowed the meaning of the term “perpetrator” and has precluded victims of clergy sexual abuse from including a church or diocese in a lawsuit.
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.
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.
In December of 2020, the Diocese of Oakland announced it reached a $3.5 million dollar priest sex abuse settlement with a former seminarian who asserted Father Michael Van Dinh raped him in 2017 at St. Michaels Parish in Livermore, CA. The seminarian did not wish to be identified and will be referred to here as ‘John Doe’
In Oct. 2020, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court heard oral arguments virtually and live-streamed via YouTube, for the Rice v. Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, et. al, case. This important legal battle could have major implications for priest and clergy abuse survivors regarding potential lawsuits.
In a matter of seven days, the Catholic Diocese of Charleston found itself having to defend itself against two allegations of priest sexual abuse. The allegations of abuse span from 1961 through the mid-1970s.
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.
A $1.4 million dollar settlement was reached with the Augustine Order involving sexual abuse allegations against deceased Rev. John J. Gallagher. The settlement compensates 11 survivors, 10 females and 1 male whom Gallagher abused between 1974 and 1978 during his time at St. Mary’s School in Lawrence, MA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Three separate lawsuits have been filed by former residents against St. Anthony’s Home for Boys alleging childhood sexual abuse. The orphanage, which housed more than 6,000 boys in its 68 years of operation, was run for many years by the Sisters of St. Francis and closed its doors in the early 1980s.
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.
Each state sets their own laws which govern how long a survivor has to file a claim, and the differences between states can be dramatic. Many clergy sexual abuse survivors are concerned about how long they have to file a lawsuit. Find general and state specific information regarding laws for filing a claim.
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.
How long you have to file a clergy abuse lawsuit in New Jersey is a common question. For some New Jersey clergy abuse survivors, it may take years, even decades to recall the abuse since traumatic events suffered as a child are often suppressed. Even those who haven’t blocked those memories often still need many years to process the pain and receive treatment or counseling before they are ready to share their stories.
For the second time since the law was initially passed in 2019, New York’s Child Victims Act (“CVA”) has been extended, providing more time for child sex abuse survivors to pursue legal claims, both criminally and civilly. The extension moves the new deadline to August 14, 2021.
In September of 2019, the Diocese of Rochester filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Rochester. At the time of the filing, the petition noted the Diocese had $50-$100 million in assets, with liability estimates totaling $100 to $500 million. The Diocese of Rochester was the first New York diocese to choose Chapter 11 reorganization, however the Dioceses of Syracuse, Buffalo and Rockville Centre have all since filed as well. The Rochester diocese covers 12 upstate New York counties where an estimated 360,000 Catholics live.
In December of 2019 the Vatican issued an instruction called On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings which essentially removed the pontifical secrecy rule related to clergy sexual abuse or misconduct cases. The directive by the Vatican should help ease communication between church officials and civil authorities around the globe regarding abuse cases.
Rev. James Kowalski, the former dean of New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, reached an agreement with the Episcopal Church in Connecticut to resolve an allegation of clergy sexual abuse against him which dates back to 1984. A young woman alleged Kowalski sexually abused her when he came to visit her during her freshman year at college. Kowalski’s connection to the alleged victim started when he was a newly ordained priest at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown, Connecticut, when the complainant was in middle school. At the time of the alleged abuse, Kowalski was serving at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford.