Abbey Says Statute of Limitations Expired in Sex Case
By Aaron Sadler
The Times Record [Arkansas]
March 22, 2005
The statute of limitations has expired on a former Subiaco Academy student’s lawsuit against the school, and his sexual abuse complaint should be dismissed, the school claims.
In a federal court filing last week, an attorney for the Logan County parochial school asked for dismissal of the suit filed by Joffre J. Miller of Texas.
Miller was a student at Subiaco Academy in the late 1970s. He alleges in his complaint that the Rev. Nicholas Fuhrmann sexually molested him from 1976-79 while Fuhrmann was his teacher and boxing coach.
The suit against the school and Fuhrmann was filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Smith.
The school claims the statute of limitations for Miller’s allegations would have expired in 1983. The school cites a state law giving someone up to three years after their 18th birthday to seek legal relief for events that occurred while they were minors.
Miller turned 18 in 1980. His complaint states the statute of limitations has not passed because he did not realize the effects of the abuse or the associated injuries and damages from the assault until March 2002.
William A. Waddell of Little Rock, attorney for the school, stated Miller is relying on a state law enacted by the Legislature in 1993. That act says a civil action may be brought up to three years after the discovery of the effect of abuse.
The 1993 law should not apply retroactively to Miller’s claim, though, since the statute of limitations for him expired in 1983, the school stated.
Another legislative act provides that a party can sue if the defendants in a case tried to conceal the abuse. The school claims that act does not apply because there were no acts of "frauds, tricks or contrivance" keeping Miller from bringing suit before 1983.
A tentative trial date of Nov. 28 has been set for the case.
Miller contends Fuhrmann began giving him massages because of the strains of boxing. The massages led to sexual molestation, the suit states.
Also, Miller claims there were other boys assaulted by Fuhrmann and the school, aware of his conduct, did nothing to stop him.
Fuhrmann is still a priest at Subiaco Abbey, where he works on the farm. He no longer teaches at the abbey’s high school.
He and the school have denied the allegations.
Miller is asking for at least $75,000 plus attorney’s fees.
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