Abuse suit thrown out

Abuse suit thrown out

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court threw out a clergy sex-abuse lawsuit because it exceeded the statute of limitations. The court said the woman should have made the connection between the abuse and her emotional problems sooner. She waited 40 years to file the lawsuit!

Under Massachusetts law, a lawsuit alleging sex abuse of a minor must be filed within three years of the person’s 18th birthday (why don’t they just say “before they turn 21”?) or within three years of the time the victim discovered that his emotional problems are linked to abuse. That latter condition seems mighty subjective to me, which is probably why the case ended up before the SJC.

The court said the woman should have been able to make a connection between the abuse and her emotional problems long before 1995 when claims she did.

Aside from the court’s reasons, such a long span of time makes it difficult for their to be justice for those being sued. Almost everyone involved in her accusations—the priest and his superiors, especially—are dead. How could the Church be reasonably expected to defend against an accusation from 1958?

The news story says that this decision could be a precedent for other abuse lawsuits, but I wonder. It’s not like there any other cases suing for alleged actions of 40+ years ago. The court evidently didn’t say exactly how long ago that connection should have been made so it’s hard to say.

So now the law is basically that victims have three years after linking abuse to damage to make a claim, but there is a limit to how long that can be after the actual abuse.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli