Court Upholds Tossing of Case against Diocese
By JD Malone
December 22, 2006
The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Wednesday upheld a decision to toss out a sexual abuse case against the Diocese of Allentown.
In a written opinion, Judge Zoran Popovich said Diana Vojtasek's claim of sexual abuse against Rev. James Gaffney was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. Vojtasek alleges Gaffney began molesting her in 1990 while she was a student at Reading Central Catholic High School where he was vice principal.
Gaffney befriended Vojtasek while she struggled with depression and during their meetings he discussed sexual topics and forced himself upon Vojtasek, according to the lawsuit.
Vojtasek was 16 when the alleged abuse began. By law she needed to file the suit within two years of turning 18 in 1992. Since the suit was filed in 2004, Popovich ruled that Vojtasek's complaint came "too late in time to avoid the barring effect of the statute of limitations."
The lawsuit said the diocese misled Vojtasek's mother when she asked officials about rumors of her daughter's relationship with Gaffney. The lawsuit claims officials told Vojtasek's mother that Gaffney did not harm Vojtasek.
Gaffney was confronted by diocese officials about the relationship and soon after transferred to St. Jane Frances de Chantal, then in Wilson Borough, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also claimed the diocese concealed knowledge of similar behavior by Gaffney prior to Vojtasek's enrollment at Reading Central.
The Diocese had no comment other than to confirm the ruling.
Vojtasek's lawyer could not be reached for comment.
Reporter JD Malone can be reached at 610-759-4599 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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