Molestation Lawsuit against Omaha Archdiocese Dismissed

By Margery A. Gibbs
Beatrice Daily Sun
June 9, 2008

OMAHA, Neb. - A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit against the Omaha Archdiocese by a man who said the archdiocese let him be abused by a priest as a boy.

The lawsuit, brought by 41-year-old Cary Claar of Springfield, Ore., alleged a Roman Catholic priest, the late Rev. Duane Lucas, sexually abused Claar for several years starting around 1978, when Claar was 12 or 13 years old.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bataillon dismissed the lawsuit Monday, reiterating that many of Claar's claims did not fall within Nebraska's statute of limitations.

Bataillon had earlier dismissed a complaint by Claar _ on the basis that the statute of limitations had run out on all causes of action _ but allowed Claar to amend the complaint.

"The court finds that the plaintiff has again failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted," Bataillon wrote in the Monday decision.

Claar, now in his early 40s, had alleged among other things in his amended complaint that Nebraska's statute of limitations is unconstitutional. The state's limitation for personal injury claims is four years.

"The court has previously discussed the statute of limitations and the occurrence and tolling provisions under Nebraska law, and it will not do so again," Bataillon wrote.

An attorney for Claar, Maren Chaloupka of Scottsbluff, said she was not surprised by the court's decision. While she had not spoken to Claar on Monday, she said she expected to appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"It's a tough thing to ask any court to declare a statute unconstitutional when that statute has been in place for a long time," Chaloupka said. "Typically, constitutional challenges end up in the appellate courts before they are resolved."

Chaloupka said she hopes to convince the appellate court that victims of childhood sexual abuse need specific consideration.

"It's a bit of an oversimplification for a legislature to say that all victims of all types of harm should be able to understand the legal system and understand their damages well enough to bring suit within a certain amount of time," she said. "When you're dealing with sexual assault victims, this is a group of victims that have a unique harm.

"Because of the very nature of the type of assault they've suffered, they are often not able to bring suit within a set number of years."

A message left Monday for the Omaha Archdiocese was not immediately returned.

Claar's lawsuit sought damages exceeding $75,000. He has said that he told priests in 1990 and 2003 that he had been abused by another priest. While the Portland Archdiocese arranged for counseling for Claar, he said in court filings, neither the counselor nor the archdiocese advised him to seek legal counsel.

Claar has said the church intentionally delayed his understanding of the situation in order to run out the statue of limitations on the alleged crime.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.