Priest Sex-Abuse Suit Dismissed
Judge Cites Statute of Limitations in Case against Archdiocese
Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)
March 9, 2004
A Jefferson Circuit judge has dismissed one of the remaining sexual-abuse lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Louisville, while another judge upheld a December ruling dismissing a different lawsuit against the Roman Catholic body.
Judge Lisabeth Hughes Abramson on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Andre Azerot, who said he was molested by the Rev. Joseph Herp in the 1980s. Abramson said Azerot filed the lawsuit too late under Kentucky's statute of limitations because he did not make his claims within a year after he became an adult.
Abramson also rejected Azerot's contention that the archdiocese had covered up abuse by Herp and that therefore the time limit should be waived. The judge said Azerot had enough evidence to pursue the claim years ago even if the archdiocese did conceal information.
And even if the time limit began with the first news report about sexual abuse in the archdiocese in April 2002, the lawsuit was filed in May 2003, more than a year after that, Abramson said.
In a second case, Judge Stephen P. Ryan denied a motion on March 1 by Linda Epperson to reconsider his dismissal of her lawsuit in December on similar grounds. Epperson said she was abused in 1962 by the Rev. Joseph Rives.
The two plaintiffs were among a handful who filed lawsuits after April 23, 2003. A total of 243 plaintiffs who filed sexual-abuse lawsuits against the archdiocese by that date entered class-action negotiations with church officials. They reached a $25.7 million settlement with the archdiocese in June .
The archdiocese permanently removed Herp from ministry in 2002 after it said it confirmed abuse allegations against him. Rives died in 1971.
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