High court applies statute of limitations in California abuse suit
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

.- Oakland's Catholic diocese cannot be sued over alleged abuse cases falling outside the legal time limit and a subsequent one-year extension, the California Supreme Court ruled on March 29.

“We believe the court made the right decision today and are gratified at the justices’ conclusion that the legislature meant what it said when lawmakers enacted a one-year exemption to the statute of limitations,” said Bishop Gerald E. Wilkerson, president of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops.

“Nothing in the court’s ruling, however, changes the fact that the protection of young people has been, and remains, our top priority,” said Bishop Wilkerson, who promised that California dioceses “will continue to take whatever steps are necessary to keep children safe.”

Thursday's ruling confirmed that six brothers of the Quarry family could not sue the Oakland diocese over the psychological effects of sexual abuse they say occurred in the early 1970s. The accused priest, Father Donald Broderson, was forced to leave the priesthood in the 1990s, and died in 2010.

During 2003, California legislators opened a one-year “window” allowing alleged victims of sexual abuse to sue for damages in cases that would otherwise have been regarded as too old to pursue in court.

The Quarry brothers brought their suit in 2007. It was only during that year, they said, that they realized the extent of the psychological damage caused by the alleged abuse.

On Thursday, however, the state's high court ruled 5-2 that the statute of limitations could not be suspended again on this basis.

“We are unreservedly sympathetic to the plight of persons who were subjected to childhood sexual abuse,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye in her opinion.

But she held that the existing time frame for lawsuits, along with the temporary 2003 extension, gave victims “considerable time following the abuse in which to come to maturity, or even middle age, and discover the claim.”

Statutes of limitations serve to protect defendants' rights in “stale” cases – where a lack of remaining evidence, and problems with witnesses' recollection of details, make it difficult to establish facts and mount a defense.

Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye noted that the legislature's one-year window for old claims was an attempt at “striking a balance between the strong interest of victims,” and the “burden on third party defendants … of being required to defend stale claims.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

A state without territory elects new government
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon
Syrian Christian refugees
Papal Foundation Pilgrimage

Liturgical Calendar

July 24, 2014

Thursday of the Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:10-17


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 2: 1-3, 7-8, 12-13
Gospel:: Mt 13: 10-17

Saint of the Day

St. Charbel Makhlouf »


Homily of the Day

Mt 13:10-17


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: