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  Appeals Court Says Archdiocese Can't Be Sued in Sex Abuse Case

Associated Press State & Local Wire
January 21, 1999

A man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest can't sue the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Michigan Court of A man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest can't sue the Archdiocese of Detroit, the Michigan Court of Appeals says.

The court, in a 3-0 ruling released Thursday, said Declan Demeyer can't sue the archdiocese over the alleged actions of Gerald Shirilla. Demeyer, now 36, claimed he was abused by Shirilla while attending Sacred Heart Seminary between 1972 and 1981. Demeyer said he had repressed the memory of the sexual assaults until he underwent counseling in 1992.

In a decision written by two former appeals judges now on the Supreme Court - Maura Corrigan and Robert Young Jr. - the appeals court said the archdiocese couldn't be sued because the statute of limitations had run out on the case.

But the judges stressed they made their decision reluctantly and only because of a precedent case decided by other judges on the appeals court.

The precedent case, Guerra v. Garrett, argued that the discovery rule and the standard grace period for insanity don't apply to people who allege that they have repressed memories.

In the new appeals court ruling, the judges said Shirilla's admission to some sexual conduct assured the possibility of reliable facts in a case against the archdiocese.

If not for the Guerra case, the judges said, the appeals court would have upheld its original reversal of a 1995 ruling by a Wayne County judge, who granted summary disposition to the archdiocese.

Shirilla has admitted in a deposition that he massaged Demeyer's chest and stomach while in the youth's bedroom in 1978. He also admitted massaging other boys' chests.

Shirilla was removed from his post at the seminary in 1993 and placed in treatment, the suit said.

 
 

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