On June 11, 2019, the Superior Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff in Rice v. Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, et al., reinstating a clergy abuse survivor’s claims that had been dismissed as untimely.
This is an extremely important decision. It permits a survivor to bring certain fraud and conspiracy-based claims against a Diocese whose hierarchy participated in covering up priestly misdeeds and a culture in which children were frequently abused. The claims survived the Diocese’s argument that they were barred by Pennsylvania’s restrictive statute of limitations. The Court agreed that plaintiff had plausibly alleged that she could not have known of the full extent of the cover-up until the issuance of a grand jury report detailing the Diocese’s involvement in it. Thus, she could sue the Diocese within two years of the report’s issuance, despite the fact that she was aware that she had been personally abused many years ago.
While Rice is not a cure-all, and will not benefit every survivor in every case, it strikes a significant blow to the historic “see-no-evil” practices of Catholic officials with respect to child sex abuse by clergy. It is particularly significant in Pennsylvania, where a stubborn minority in the General Assembly has effectively blocked legislation that would create a “window” for survivors to bring otherwise time-barred claims in court. It likely also represents a not-too-subtle message from the judiciary that it is time for the legislature finally to act on behalf of the thousands of clergy abuse survivors in the Commonwealth.
If you or a loved one has experienced sexual abuse by a member of the clergy, you have options. Contact Williams Cedar today to speak with a compassionate and knowledgeable clergy abuse lawyer. Call 215-557-0099 or 856-470-9777 or submit an online inquiry.
We offer free consultations at our offices in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, where we proudly represent clients in Trenton, Camden, Metuchen and throughout New Jersey, as well as those in the communities of Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Johnstown, Eerie, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.