Court Ruling Could Allow More Child-Sex Abuse Charges
Victims' Advocates Pleased by Ruling
July 19, 2004
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Victims of child-sex abuse applauded a St. Louis judge's recent ruling that would allow older cases to be brought to trial.
Supporters of the judge's ruling gathered on the lawn of the Jackson County Courthouse Monday. Many said they had survived abuse or knew of someone who had.
Advocates for victims and their families believe the ruling could result in many new filings against Kansas City-area priests, KMBC's Bev Chapman reported.
"It just takes years for people to get the courage to come forward, or even realize what's happened," said Michael Hunter, a member of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
A woman who said she was abused in 1952 said the ruling will right old wrongs.
"Even I would be eligible to file, and that feels so good because I was silent for so long," Kate Goodnow said.
The ruling comes from a St. Louis-area appeals court, which said that sodomy charges can be filed against a St. Louis priest, even though the alleged incident took place in the 70s. The court pointed out that prior to 1979, there was no statute of limitations on the crime.
The ruling would ostensibly enable charges to be filed in any case that took place before the 1979 statute of limitations took effect.
"Any ruling that's going to enable us to reach back and catch somebody whose done these types of things is a good ruling," said Jenni Vincent, of the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office.
Vincent said the facts of any case will still determine which go to trial and which do not.
In the past year, five former Kansas City priests have been sued, accused of rape, sodomy and child abuse dating back to the 1960s.
Vincent believes the St. Louis ruling could open the door to more criminal charges.
"Someone who's going to do that kind of thing to a kid should have to look over their shoulder for as long as possible," she said.
Without commenting on the ruling, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Kansas City/St. Joseph said, "the church is about faith, reconciliation and healing for anyone who's suffered from abuse."
Chapman reported the St. Louis case will likely be appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court.
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