Kentucky Judge Lets Sex-Abuse Lawsuit against Archdiocese Proceed
By Gregory Hall
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
January 23, 2004
A Jefferson, Ky., circuit judge has ruled that a sexual abuse case against the Archdiocese of Louisville may continue despite claims by Roman Catholic officials that the lawsuit was filed too late.
In a decision Tuesday, Judge Denise Clayton denied the archdiocese's request to dismiss Julie Vatter's case.
Vatter's lawsuit, filed in August , claims the Rev. C.Patrick Creed sexually abused her when she was between 10 and 14 in the 1970s. Creed died in 2001.
The archdiocese, in requesting that Clayton grant summary judgment in its favor, argued that published reports in April 2002 served as notice to potential plaintiffs and gave them a year to sue under Kentucky's statute of limitations.
Those first published reports concerned the retirement of the Rev. Louis E. Miller after an allegation of abuse surfaced. Miller is now in prison.
Vatter argued that she didn't know that she had a potential case until later, when an allegation of abuse by Creed surfaced and was claimed to have occurred before she said she was abused.
Clayton ruled that "Ms. Vatter has set forth an issue of fact regarding when she should have been aware that the archdiocese was concealing acts of sexual abuse on students by priests."
Summary judgment is generally not allowed when material facts in a case are disputed.
"We think it's very thoughtful, and it's fair-minded," Vatter's attorney, Harry Gregory, said of the ruling.
Archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price declined to comment because the litigation is pending.
Clayton's ruling is the fourth in Jefferson Circuit Court concerning cases in which the archdiocese claimed that the plaintiff filed too late. Her decision is the second in favor of a plaintiff. Two other rulings, both by Judge Stephen Ryan, favored the archdiocese.
The plaintiffs have alleged that the church covered up knowledge of child sexual abuse by priests, teachers and others.
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