New Court Ruling May Help Older Clergy Abuse Claims Proceed
The attorneys at KBA are working on sexual assault cases. Many survivors cannot bring lawsuits because the abuse happened many years ago. Some states such as New Jersey, have changed their law to give survivors a chance to get justice by extending the statute of limitations.
A recent decision in Pennsylvania may make it easier for survivors of sexual assault to find justice. The Pennsylvania State Superior Court ruled on June 11, 2019 that a case could continue where a sexual assault survivor claimed she was sexually abused by clergy in the 1970s and 1980s. She filed a lawsuit in 2016, but it was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. The appellate court reversed the decision.
In short, where circumstances show fraud or a special relationship there could be an exception. The plaintiff alleged she worked at the church and provided music services; therefore, the diocese owed her a fiduciary duty. It should have disclosed its knowledge of Bodziak’s history of child molestation, which it allegedly covered up. Additionally, the civil conspiracy claim remained viable assuming the last act occurred in 2016 when the Grand Jury Report revealed the Church’s cover-up activities. Before then, everyone was unaware of the Church’s efforts to cover up Bodziak’s abuse.
Mark Scolforo. “New court ruling may help older clergy abuse claims proceed”, WHYY, https://whyy.org/articles/new-court-ruling-may-help-older-clergy-abuse-claims-proceed/. Accessed June 12, 2019.